Global Resources

Curbing the surge of female genital mutilation

Author: K. O. Odeku
Publisher: Bangladesh Sociology Society
Publication Date: Jan 2014
Given the extensive physical, emotional, mental and sexual traumas resulting from female genital mutilation (FGM), this article argues for classifying the practice as torture in order to strengthen the law against it, and bring perpetrators to justice. In addition to research regarding FGM from a variety of perspectives, the author also undertook massive analysis, examination and evaluation of literature relevant to the prohibition of torture. The rights of women and girls to protection from FGM are implicit in various international instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1986 (the African Charter). Nearly all of the African countries in which FGM is practised are parties to the African Charter, as well as other international instruments condemning violence against women and banning torture and other related practices; yet, FGM remains prevalent and widespread. The author finds that the most authoritative human rights instrument that characterizes FGM as a form of torture is the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). CAT is thought to be the most potent instrument for dealing with FGM because it prohibits in entirety any act or acts of torture; it also strengthens women's claims with regard to the prevention, protection and rehabilitation of torture victims. In the author’s estimation, best legal remedy to address FGM on a worldwide scale may be the application of CAT the combined with the application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC, 1990), the African Charter, customary international law, and existing domestic laws.