There are reasons why FGM should not be considered as a criminal offence. Namely, FGM can improve cleanliness; prevention of vaginal cancer; removal of a poisonous organ; removal of bad genital odours; increased beauty; enhances sexuality and prevention of rape. 50 Religion vs. Tradition/ Religious values Behind FGM. FGM had been originated from Egypt. It is true that once Egypt converted to Islam, FGM should demise. This is because FGM is not a religious practise require by the Islamic faith. In Islam, it is a sin to inflict harm to others and FGM is doing exactly that.
The two main sources of Muslim Law, the Koran and Sunnah, did not mention the practise. 51 It is not easy to understand why FGM did not fade out and the best explanation is that FGM is considered as a tradition. 52 FGM had become a "law by custom. "53 There are reports that had shown that even if FGM were a criminal offence, societies that practise the procedure would still continue with it and ignore the law. For example, Zuleka Ahmed of Somali Region Woman's Affairs Office said, "Female genital mutilation and cutting is against the law.
However, here tradition is stronger than the law. "54 Trying to outlaw the practise only amount to provoking resistance and protest in Africa. 55 All these proved that law does little or nothing to stop those who practise FGM and the procedure continues because it is their culture, their tradition. 56 For them who practise FGM, breaking the tradition is far more severe than going against the law. There is of course reasons why these people rather bind by custom than to follow law and these are the reasons why FGM should not be considered as a criminal offence.
Firstly, since it is a tradition, it is needed to preserve group identity. 57 Where a group had always been recognised by a certain practise or custom, it is important that the practise continues in order to define who they are. Besides, FGM is important for a female to be eligible to get marry in a FGM society. 58 Women who have not been excised have little chance to get married and marriage is essential to the social and economic security of a woman in those places. 59 Lastly, FGM societies feel that unless a girl had gone through this procedure, she will not be a true woman.
60 If people are to accept FGM just because it is a cultural practise, it is very ridiculous. Thus, FGM should be considered as a criminal offence. To eliminate FGM,61 the most important thing is to eliminate all these cultural beliefs. If it is for medical reasons a female have to be excise, an approved practitioner must do it. However, as a stepping stone to end FGM, government should first allows doctors to do the procedure to minimise the risk rather then females undergoing FGM under unsafe conditions. MORAL VALUES BEHIND FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.
FGM may be considered as morally wrong in one society but it may be perfectly acceptable in societies where it is practise. In places where FGM is not practise, it is considered as violating human rights, interfering woman's human nature and the biological function of the vagina. In short, it is immoral to carry out the procedure. However, in the 28 countries where FGM is performed, it is immoral NOT to perform FGM and it is perfectly acceptable in their moral code. Hence, the line of whether FGM is moral or immoral is one that is very difficult to draw.
But, majority of the people will consider it as immoral. WOMEN'S RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND PERSONAL ENJOYMENT Right to privacy can be seen as a form as security and it allows people to reveal themselves selectively. This mean that everyone have a right to choose which part of themselves to be reveal and this does not include only name, background or address but extended to one's body. We, as women had always regarded our genitals as the most private part of our bodies. Our parents had thought us not to let anyone touch our private parts unless consented. However, FGM had clearly gone against this norm.
Girls are taken from their homes, and have their most private parts removed of their bodies in the most cruel, inhuman and painful way. 62 In my opinion, FGM had violated woman's right of privacy by intervening into the most intimate aspect of a woman's life, her sexuality. FGM also interferes with a woman's human nature. This means that FGM had infringed a woman's right to personal enjoyment. Human reproduce sexually. In that process, women are supposed to experience sexual arousal and orgasm. 63 This is a form of enjoyment for women and it make women want to have sex.
No doubt, FGM had interferes with a woman's sexual fulfilment, causing her not to have any sexual arousal and orgasm. This had violated a woman's right to personal enjoyment because FGM takes off a woman's desire for sex and causes pain during intercourse. With that, intercourse that is supposed to be enjoyable became a form of pain for women. HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998 Human Rights Act 199864 is one of the act of parliament in the United Kingdom. 65 This act is "to give further effect to rights and freedom guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights.
"66 FGM had clearly breached articles in the Human Rights Act 1998. FGM infringed Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998,67 which is right to life. FGM inflict severe pain and suffering to those females who undergo it and FGM can be life endangering. When death can be the result of this ritual, FGM is risking a female's life and death, therefore infringing her right to life. Next, FGM had also breached Article 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998,68 which is prohibition to torture. This Article prohibits one from any inhuman or degrading treatment.
It is very clear that FGM is an inhuman practise since it removes a female's private part without her consent in the most painful fashion. It is also a degrading treatment because FGM is practised to control a woman's sexuality and autonomy. It initiates a woman into strictly defined gender roles. In this era, we talk about equality but FGM put women into an inferior position. Such action did not respect a woman's dignity and therefore, considered as a degrading treatment. Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998,69 right to liberty and security had also been breached.
Girls are depriving of their liberty when they are forced to undergo the ritual, restrain during and after the ritual. Girls are forced by their parents to undergo FGM. During FGM, a girl would be hold down by a woman and after FGM, a girl is suppose to tied her leg up for about 4 months until the wound heal. This clearly interferes with a female's liberty since she do not has the freedom to move about as how she wishes. FGM violate Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998,70 freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well. This article provides that everyone has the freedom to choose his or her practise.
FGM violate this article by imposing practises on women without giving them an option to choose. There are serious sanctions against women who do not excise. A woman will be considered as ineligible to get marry if do not undergo this procedure and getting marry is seen as the only significant and acceptable role for women in FGM societies. 71 Thus, women consented to FGM not because they accept the tradition but because they fear about the sanctions that follow and there is no freedom of thought and conscience involve in such situation. The next article that FGM had breached is Article 14,72 prohibition of discrimination.
With this article, discrimination should not exist. Sadly, in FGM societies, this is not the case because a 'whole' woman would be treated differently and not gets the same treatment from the society or even from their own family. This is discrimination. Lastly, Article 17,73 prohibition of abuse of rights was infringed. Females have their own distinct rights. FGM had abuse all these rights by interfering a female physically and her biological function of a vagina. I believe that FGM can survive today in some societies because people does not know or know little about their rights.
Hence, I strongly suggest that those countries that are practising FGM should adopt a code such as the Human Rights Act 1998. Often, women in FGM societies do not know that their human rights had been violated. They assume that got beaten up by their husbands is a part of marriage and have their private parts circumcised is a part of life. They do not understand that these actions had violated both national law and international human rights treaties. 74 Females accept FGM because they do not know that they can say 'NO' to it.
One way to solve this problem is to adopt code such as the Human Rights Act so that females will understand their rights and hopefully, stand up for their rights one day by saying 'NO' to FGM. Although countries practising FGM did not have code such as Human Rights Act, but there are other ways to protect females. International Law is there to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women. 75 Other than these, out of 28 countries that practise FGM, 26 had ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and UNICEF, asked the world for support to end FGM by calling FGM, "unsafe and unjustifiable traditional practise. "76 Amnesty International also tries to stop FGM. 77 All these laws are present because victims of FGM do not have the power to stop it themselves, so it is the obligation of those who do not practise FGM to assist them in asserting their human rights, and bringing this practise to an end forever.