Female Genital Mutilation: the law in England and Wales viewed from a human rights perspective

Ruth Gaffney-Rhys

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    Abstract

    Female Genital Mutilation has been described by the U.N. as a ‘critical human rights issue’ and as a consequence, several jurisdictions, including England and Wales, have enacted specific legislation to combat the practice. This paper considers FGM from a human rights standpoint and analyses the law in England and Wales in the light of this. Although arguments have been presented to support the continuance of the practice, the opposing arguments are more compelling, particularly in relation to child victims. The law in England and Wales reflects this perspective, adopting a strong universalist human rights approach to FGM. The stance initially taken i.e. to criminalise FGM, was criticised because the law was not utilised and in response, civil protection measures were introduced. This paper concludes that the latter have been more useful than the criminal provisions and impact private and family life to a lesser degree than other civil law alternatives. But whether they will continue to be effective, following the Court of Appeal judgment in Re X which set aside a global travel ban because it violated the right to private and family life and had not been fully justified, remains to be seen.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages20
    JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2019

    Keywords

    • Female Genital Mutilation
    • FGM
    • human rights
    • law
    • England and Wales
    • criminal
    • civil

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