Taher Fakhruddin, the Syedna of the breakaway Bohra faction, on Saturday called khatna or female genital mutilation “an un-Islamic and horrific practice”. According to the Times of India, the claimant to the position of the 54th Da'i al-Mutlaq said women should have the option of undergoing a medically approved procedure similar to khatna when they are adults, but it should not be forced on them as minors given the trauma young girls experience when it is done.

In speaking of a safer procedure, the rival syedna was referring to clitoral de-hooding, which proponents say is a minor surgery that enhances a woman’s sexual experience. Activists from the community have long decried khatna as it carried out now, saying it is a severe violation of human rights and an effort to curb female sexuality. The current Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has alluded to being in favour of khatna.

The rival leader’s comments were welcomed by Speak Out on FGM, a group that has been raising awareness about the practice and represents many women from the community who have spoken against it. The group also supported the leader's call to make the practice optional for adult women, but pointed out that it is not a medical necessity. They appealed to the leaders of other Bohra sects to join the dissenters in their fight to end FGM.

Sahiyo, an organisation that advocates against khatna, put out a joint statement with Speak Out on FGM, saying while they rejoiced in the leader's statement, they did not want it to be perceived as "a conspiracy to malign the syedna of the dominant Dawoodi Bohra sect". The statement adds that they speak for the members of all sects, not just the dominant or breakaway one. It also points out that there is a significant difference between khatna and clitoral de-hooding, which is recommended as a procedure in adult women only when there are medical complications.