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
Date Written: April 11, 2019
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: Suggested Citation