Female Genital Mutilation

A Guide to Laws and Policies Worldwide

Edited by Anika Rahman and Nahid Toubia


A report on the prevalence of female circumcision and female genital mutilation. In seeking to help eliminate the practice, the work places it in a human rights and legal framework. It describes its history and its consequences for health, and presents data from 40 case studies around the world.
This is the most extensive report currently available on the use of law and policy to address the practice of female circumcision/female genital mutilation (FC/FGM). In encouraging a proactive governmental response to the practice, the book places it firmly in a human rights and legal framework. The result of a major research report in 41 countries, both North and South, it covers not only the prevalence of FC/FGM but the various laws and other measures in place to prevent it.

The book describes FC/FGM, its history, its consequences for health and the movement now working to combat it. It then reports on each country - its prevalence and governmental measures for its eradication.

FC/FGM is not exclusively a concern of African governments. Countries of the North have also adopted legal measures aimed at preventing the practice. These measures, however, are clearly directed at their immigrant populations. This throws up a classic dilemma of human rights work: whether or not to fight for rights that are seen as universal and fundamental - in this case the bodily integrity of women - when it means overriding the cultural beliefs of individuals, or minority groups.

Finding a solution to this problem is the second aim of this book. The authors suggest an answer through the actual implementation of human rights treaties. They look at how FC/FGM violates these rights for women: specifically freedom from gender discrimination and violence, the right to health and the rights of children.

The last section of the book makes recommendations for action by governments, the international community, and non-governmental organizations.

Author Bio

Anika Rahman is the director of the International Program of The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP). Nahid Toubia is currently an associate professor at Columbia University School of Public Health and director of Research Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women (RAINBO).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. International Human Rights Law: A Framework for Social Justice
  • 3. Duties of Governments under Human Rights Law
  • 4. Recommendations for Governments
  • 5. Legal and Policy Strategies for NGOs
  • Country Profiles:
  • Australia / Belgium / Benin / Burkina Faso / Cameroon / Canada / Central African Republic / Chad / Côte d'Ivoire / Democratic Republic of Congo Denmark / Djibouti / Egypt / Eritrea / Ethiopia / France / The Gambia / Germany / Ghana / Guinea-Bissau / Guinea / Italy / Kenya / Liberia / Mali / Mauritania / The Netherlands / New Zealand / Niger / Nigeria / Norway / Senegal / Sierra Leone / Somalia / Sudan / Sweden / Tanzania / Togo / Uganda / United Kingdom / United States of America


'This book is a testament to the heroic victories being won by a number of countries against female genital mutilation. UNICEF welcomes this valuable exposition of the steps and processes involved in enacting legislation and policies to end this abuse of girls' and women's rights. It contributes towards a better understanding of what can and must be done to protect the rights of girls and women and end FGM.'
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF

'For all those working on the elimination of female genital mutilation, this book provides a framework and recommendations for practical legal policy and action. It is very significant in that it shows the tremendous changes that are taking place around the world in safeguarding the rights of all people and in improving their well-being.'
Nafis Sadik, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund

'Female genital mutilation affects the physical integrity of women and children and as such should be condemned. In doing so, it is necessary to act with tact and patience. This book will perform an educational function in setting out the international legal framework in detail.'
Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

'CRLP and RAINBO have provided an indispensable resource for activists, scholars and advocates interested in women's bodily integrity and human rights.'
Rosalind Petchesky, Hunter College, CUNY

'Very helpful for courses in international law or development, social change, political science, and gender and development'
NWSA Journal


Publication Date: 30 June 2000
272 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781856497732
Library Edition: 9781856497725

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