On the 21 of March, 2014, the news service BBC posted the article “FGM: UK's first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced” on their site. In this article it is written that according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) a doctor at the Whittington Hospital will be prosecuted for the alleged offence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Since 1985, FGM has been an illegal practice in the United Kingdom. In order to tackle the problem of FGM carried out in foreign countries on UK citizens, an additional law, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. This law states in article 1 that “A person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris,” and in article 3 it is stated that “a person is guilty of an offence if he aids, abets, counsels or procures a person who is not a United Kingdom national or permanent United Kingdom resident to do a relevant act of female genital mutilation outside the United Kingdom”. The fact that only now someone is prosecuted, almost 30 years after legislature condemned the practice of FGM, shows that it has been very difficult for the UK to bring justice to those girls and women whose bodies have been mutilated in a dehumanizing manner.
Research by UNICEF shows that the number of females on a world scale who have undergone FGM is approximately 130 million, and annually, around 3 million girls undergo this procedure. According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the practice can be traced back to 28 African countries, as well as some countries in South East Asia and the Middle East. It also notes that in Britain, women that fell victim to FGM can be found in some ethnic groups that have migrated to the country. The BMA calls for awareness that children of parents belonging to these groups might fall victim to the practice. Research by the Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development (FORWARD) has estimated that the number of women subjected to FGM in 2001 was 65,790 in England and Wales. Thereby, in 2004, there were 9,032 women who were giving birth who had undergone FGM. This number has been growing since 2001. Moreover, 32,925 girls born in England or Wales or in an FGM practising country under 15 are considered to be at high risk to undergo FGM (type III and II). As the BMA has noted, there is an increased risk especially in the summer holidays, for children are flown to FGM practising countries – and the length of the holiday allow for the wounds to heal. This essay will focus on the ethical reasons to condemn the practice of FGM, and will explore the friction between the rights to culture and human rights. Furthermore, it will propose some ideas that might help to stop the impunity of parents who force their girls to be mutilated.
Practice and Consequences
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies four different types of FGM:
1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal...