Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Africa: A Complex Legal and Ethical Landscape

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2019; 145: 253–257

10 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2019

See all articles by Satang Nabaneh

Satang Nabaneh

University of Pretoria - Centre for Human Rights

A.S. Muula

University of Malawi

Date Written: April 11, 2019

Abstract

While international and regional human rights instruments have recognized female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as one of the most prevalent forms of violence against women and girls, in many African states FGM/C is a deeply entrenched cultural practice. There is a consensus against FGM, as evidenced by its criminalization in several African countries. The mere fact that the practice continues despite legislative measures to protect women and girls against FGM raises the question whether we can legislate change. The present article summarizes the trends and effectiveness of FGM criminalization in Africa including prohibition on medicalization of FGM. Against the backdrop of emerging debate on medicalization of FGM as a harm reduction strategy, the article also examines its complex legal and ethical implications. The article argues that while criminalization may not be the best means of stopping FGM, it creates an enabling environment to facilitate the overall strategy of African governments to eradicate the practice.

Keywords: Female genital mutilation, female genital cutting, human rights, medicalization, alternative rites passage, medical professionals, criminalization

JEL Classification: K10, J13, I18, I10

Suggested Citation

Nabaneh, Satang and Muula, A.S., Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Africa: A Complex Legal and Ethical Landscape (April 11, 2019). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2019; 145: 253–257. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3370369

Satang Nabaneh (Contact Author)

University of Pretoria - Centre for Human Rights ( email )

Private Bag X20
Hatfield 0028
Pretoria
South Africa

A.S. Muula

University of Malawi

Chancellor College
Mathematical Sciences
Zomba, 265
Malawi

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