Law & FGM

Law and FGM

Female Genital Mutilation is a complex issue deeply embedded in the societies where it is practiced. While criminalization of the practice is generally acknowledged as an important step in the global strategy towards abandonment of FGM, most experts would agree that anti-FGM laws alone cannot solve the problem. The absence of a decrease of prevalence of FGM in many communities where laws exist as well as growing critiques against the way laws are implemented raises the question: Can social change be legislated?
First thematic discussion in 2019

A discussion on the theme “Law and FGM” was organized within the Community of practice on FGM in July and August 2019 with the aim to encourage an exchange of experiences, from different countries, on how to best use the law as a tool in the anti-FGM strategy. In the thematic note we look at the legal measures taken to eradicate FGM, both in high-prevalence countries and low-prevalence countries, we also highlight some of the common critiques against the implementation of anti-FGM laws. Three human rights experts were invited to participate in the discussion.
Update discussion in 2021

In the last two years, several countries have seen changes in legislation, including some in Africa (e.g. Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, etc.). However, most Asian and Middle Eastern countries affected by FGM, as well as a few African countries (e.g. Sierra Leone, Mali, Liberia), still do not have anti-FGM legislation or have not implemented their legislation (Chad…). As we saw in 2019, many countries also face problems with the implementation of laws, including limited ownership or knowledge by the populations.

This is why in August 2021 the CoP is taking up the subject of legislation and FGM again. On this occasion we will take stock of the situation in different countries, exchange information on legal developments in recent years, report on good practices and collectively reflect on the challenges that many countries still face in implementing anti-FGM legislation in order to reduce prevalence rates of the practice.

On this page you will mainly find information updated in 2021. If you wish to access the information gathered in 2019 you can do so by clicking the link below that will bring you to the Archive.

  • 28 Too Many, 2018 (a), SOMALIA: THE LAW AND FGM, Access here
  • 28 Too Many, 2018 (b) , The Law and FGM: An Overview of 28 African Countries, Access here
  • African Union, 2020, Slow progress in meeting commitment to 2020 as the year of universal ratification of Maputo protocol, Access  here
  • Aha Foundation, 2019, Why we hesitate to protect girls from FGM in the United States, Access here
  • Aline FLOR/Politico, date unknown, Relação de Lisboa suspende pena a mulher condenada por mutilação genital. Prisão da mãe seria “um novo castigo” para a criança, Access here
  • Australian Human Rights Commission, 2016, FGM Conference: A  Human Rights Perspective, Access here
  • Berer  M., 2015, The history and role of the criminal law in anti-FGM campaigns: Is the criminal law what is needed, at least in countries like Great Britain?,  Access here
  • Bhalla N., Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2018, Kenyan doctor goes to court to legalise female genital mutilation, Access here
  • Chatot F., Groupe UR (2020),  Dynamiques et normes sociales liées aux mutilations génitales féminines dans le Mandoul – rapport de recherche, Access here
  • Centre for Human Rights, date unknown, Maputo Protocol, Access here 
  • Earp Brian D., Shahvisi A., Cambridge University Press, 2019, The law and ethics of female genital cutting, in Female Genital Cosmestic Surgery: Solution to What Problem?, Access here
  • EIGE, 2018, Estimation of girls at risk of female genital mutilation in the European Union – Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta – Report. Access here
  • ECHR, 2005, Case K.A. and A.D. v./ Belgium, Access here
  • EIGE, 2018, Estimation of girls at risk of female genital mutilation in the European Union – Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2018, Response statement: Landmark FGM Prosecution case in Switzerland, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2019 (a), Couple convicted of FGM- Ireland, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2019 (b), FGM conviction in the United-Kingdom, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2021 (a), End FGM EU interactive map on FGM in Europe, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2021(b), Statement – First FGM conviction in Portugal, Access here
  • End FGM European Network, 2021(c), The Impact of Asylum Laws, Policies and Practices on FGM-Affected women and girls in Europe – Mapping trends, differences and promising practices in 7 EU countries, Access here
  • Equality Now, 2020, Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting: A call for a global response, Access here 
  •  Equality Now, date unknown (a), FGM in the US, Access here
  • Equality Now, date unknown (b), Ratify the Maputo Protocol: Protect the Rights of African Women and Girls, Access here
  • Equality Now, date unknown (c), US Laws Against FGM – State by state, Access here
  • FGM IN NZ, 2020, FGM and NZ Law, Access here
  • Global Platform for Action to End FGM/C, 2020, Global Report on FGM/C 2020,  Access here
  • Johnsdotter S. and Mestre R. M., 2015, ‘Female Genital Mutilation in Europe: An analysis of court cases, Access here
  • Johnsdotter S., 2019, Meaning well while doing harm: compulsory genital examinations in Swedish African girls Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters, Access here
  • Johnsdotter S., 2009 , The FGM Legislation Implemented: Experiences from Sweden, Malmö University, Access here 
  • Justice Laws Website, 1985, Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c.C-46), Access here
  • La constitution de la république du Tchad du 04 mai 2018, Access here
  • Loi n°006/PR/2002 portant promotion de la Santé de Reproduction, Access here
  • Maryse A., INTACT Belgique, 2014, Les Mutilations Génitales Féminines : de l’incrimination aux poursuites. Etat des lieux en Belgique et regards européens , Access here
  • Nabaneh S. and Muula S. A., 2019, Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa: A complex legal and ethical landscape, Access here
  • Rashid A, Iguchi Y., 2019, Female genital cutting in Malaysia: a mixed methods study. Access here
  • STOP FGM Middle East,  IndonesiaIraqIran
  • The Council of Europe, 2017, Action against female genital mutilation and forced marriage, Access here
  • The Council of Europe, End FGM European Network, Amnesty International, 2014, Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence: A Tool to end FGM, Access here
  • Thomas A. R., The Sierra Leone Telegraph 2016, Female circumcision – women must have the right to choose – says Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, Access here
  • United to End FGM, The role of the justice system in the fight against FGM, Access here
  • UNFPA and UNICEF, 2020, Policy Brief: Enabling Environments for Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, Access here
  • UNFPA Regional Office for West and Central Africa, 2018, Analysis of Legal Frameworks on Female Genital Mutilation in Selected Countries in West Africa, Access here
  • UNFPA, 2009, Burkina Faso has a strong law against FGM/C,but winning hearts and minds remains crucial, Access here
  • World Bank, 2018, Compendium of International and National Legal Frameworks on Female Genital Mutilation Second Edition , Access here
  • Yusuf C., Fessha Y., 2013, African Human Rights Law journal, Volume 13 No 2:  Female genital mutilation as a human rights issue: Examining the effectiveness of the law against female genital mutilation in Tanzania, Access here

Law against FGM in 4 African countries

Law & FGM Law against FGM in 4 African countries   The online conference of August 25, 2021(In French) addressed the issue of the legislative situation of FGM in 4 African countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Chad. The discussion focused on the current legal...

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Legislation against FGM in North America

Law & FGM Legislation against FGM in North America   Canada Performing FGM is a criminal offence in Canada. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) indicates that reporting to appropriate child welfare protection services is mandatory when...

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Law and FGM in Asia

Loi & MGF Law and FGM in Asia   Contrary to common belief that FGM is practiced only in Africa and a few countries in Asia, there is growing evidence that FGM/C takes place across the world, in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America,...

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Portugal: A first FGM sentence is suspended after appeal

Loi & MGF Portugal: A first FGM sentence is suspended after appeal   The court took into consideration the specific situation of the woman In 2021, a 21 year old woman was found guilty in Portugal for having had her young daughter undergo FGM type IV on a trip to...

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Legal framework in Africa

Law & FGM Legal framework in Africa What is the situation in terms of legislation against FGM in Africa in 2021? In 2019, at the time of the CoP FGM thematic discussion on “Law&FGM,” of the 28 countries in Africa where FGM is practiced, 22 had national...

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Anti-FGM legislation and court cases in Europe

Loi & MGF Anti-FGM legislation and court cases in Europe   Legal framework in Europe   In Europe, FGM is criminalized in all 27 EU member staters as well as in other countries, either through specitif legislation or a specific or general provision in the criminal...

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National laws on FGM

Law & FGM National laws on FGM   Which countries have laws against FGM?   Several countries with a high prevalence of FGM, as well as low-prevalence countries with important populations originating from countries where FGM is practiced, have passed national...

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International and regional legal frameworks on FGM

Loi & MGF International and regional legal frameworks on FGM   International legal instruments on FGM   Female Genital Mutilation is internationally recognized as a practice that violates human rights. A number of international conventions and declarations form...

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