One member questioned the interest of the debating the use of anti-FGM legislation.
She considered that any arguments against anti-FGM legislation may be used against any existing laws aimed at child protection and human rights in general :
« There are very few places in this world where a law is being implemented and respected just because it is law. Quality of prosecution, under-reporting, lack of resources and the resistance of local communities are universal challenges no matter the issue which is being legiferated –drugs, human trafficking, gang violence, pedophilia, and no matter the place-Latin America, Africa, the US, EU! Laws don’t work from the very beginning and are rarely (if ever) being easily implemented. A dangerous logic: if we are at fault of making justice work, does that mean we should renounce laws? Should all forms of abuse and all types of crimes become legal? »
Several other members responded to this, emphasising the importance of critically accessing whether the law has been a useful tool in ending FGM within our respective jurisdictions. Members agreed that it is important to create « safe spaces » where we can objectively interrogate why laws may not function as expected (including the shortcomings or negative effects of these laws) and what are the hindrances and/or challenges we face in the implementation of these laws.
« I believe that discourse on the utility of anti-FGM laws is a healthy debate that we ought to have as proponents of the anti-FGM agenda without necessarily classifying it as a pro or against argument. » She stressed that «the law doesn’t exist and operate in a vacuum. It is meant to – in one way or the other – sanction, regulate and/or restrict; and the purpose for the applicability of anti-FGM laws is deterrence. (…) I am optimistic that the law has not failed and will never fail in the campaign to ending FGM and we cannot give up on anti-FGM laws. »
« laws are important to protect women and girls, hold perpetrators accountable and providing remedies to victims of FGM. … law can be a powerful tool for women, girls and civil society to hold their governments accountable to implement measures to protect women and girls from FGM. But … some non legal measures (public awareness campaigns, community conversations, training of law enforcement, educators, health care professionals…, engaging men, providing safe spaces for women and their communities to discuss and report cases of FGM) could help promoting public awarenesses and community ownership of anti- FGM laws which in my view are crucial for social change and for better enforcement of anti-FGM laws. »