Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday said the custom of female genital mutilation practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community should be banned in India, reported Hindustan Times. The Union minister said that if the community did not stop the practice on its own, the Centre would introduce a law to stop it.

“We will write to respective state governments and Syedna, the Bohra high priest, shortly to issue an edict to community members to give up FGM voluntarily as it is a crime under Indian Penal Code [IPC] and Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses [POCSO] Act, 2012. If the Syedna does not respond then we will bring in a law to ban the practice in India,” she told the newspaper.

Her ministry is believed to have already met with Bohra community representatives, activists and legal experts.

The Supreme Court on May 8 had asked the central government and four states to reply to a Public Interest Litigation filed seeking ban on the practice.

The Dawoodi Bohra community is the only one in India known to practise female genital cutting, which typically involves a cut or nick to the clitoral hood. The practice, called khatna or khafz within the community, is defined by the United Nations as Type-I female genital mutilation, which describes this as including either the cutting of the clitoral hood or the partial or total removal of the clitoris, and is usually done to girls at a young age. The process is usually carried out on girl aged between six and 12 years.