Legal, cultural and practical developments in responding to female genital mutilation : can an absolute human right emerge?
Mathews, Benjamin P. (2013) Legal, cultural and practical developments in responding to female genital mutilation : can an absolute human right emerge? In Maguire, Rowena, Lewis, Bridget, & Sampford, Charles (Eds.) Shifting Global Powers and International Law : Challenges and Opportunities. Routledge, London, New York.
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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice involving the deliberate, non-therapeutic physical modification of young girls’ genitalia. FGM can take several forms, ranging from smaller incisions, to removal of the clitoris and labia, and narrowing or even closing of the vagina. FGM predates and has no basis in the Koran, or any other religious text. Rather, it is a cultural tradition, particularly common in Islamic societies in regions of Africa, motivated by a patriarchal society’s desire to control female bodies and lives. The primary reason for this desire for control is to ensure virginity at marriage, thereby preserving family honour, within a patriarchal social structure where females’ value as persons is intrinsically connected to, and limited to, their worth as virgin brides. Recent efforts at legal prohibition and practical eradication in a growing number of African nations mark a significant turning point in how societies treat females. This shift in cultural power has been catalysed by a concern for female health, but it has also been motivated by an impulse to promote the human rights of girls and women. Although FGM remains widely practiced and there is much progress yet to be made before its eradication, the rights-based approach which has grown in strength embodies a marked shift in cultural power which reflects progress in women’s and children’s rights in the Western world, but which is now being applied in a different cultural context. This chapter reviews the nature of FGM, its prevalence, and health consequences. It discusses recent legal, cultural and practical developments, especially in African nations. Finally, this chapter raises the possibility that an absolute human right against FGM may emerge.
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|Item Type:||Book Chapter|
|Keywords:||Female genital mutilation, FGM, Female genital cutting, Law, Australia, Health consequences, Human rights, Children's rights, Women's rights, Prevention efforts, Eradication, Women in society, History, Africa, Islam|
|Subjects:||Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PAEDIATRICS AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE (111400) > Obstetrics and Gynaecology (111402)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Human Rights Law (180114)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law and Society (180119)
|Divisions:||Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright 2013 Rowena Maguire, Bridget Lewis and Charles Sampford for selection and editorial matter; individual contributors their contribution|
|Deposited On:||12 Dec 2012 03:31|
|Last Modified:||02 Dec 2015 20:29|
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