JPIL Vol 7 Issue 1 2016 - Article 2

THE RIGHT TO RELIGION AND FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
 
Emily Daly
 
Abstract
Female genital mutilation is prohibited internationally, but the practice continues. This article considers firstly how religion and belief (which is also protected by the right to religion in Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) shape human behaviour, knowledge and consequently have an effect on legal systems and the effect of laws. How behaviour is changed and rationalised by laws and ritual is analysed from an anthropological perspective with FGM as the focal point. The author moves on to discuss the reality behind female genital mutilation and the cultural understanding that is inherently linked with the choices communities make, and considers whether criminalising FGM interferes with the right to religion. Daly highlights the importance of engaging with communities who continue this practice in order to effectively move forward and reduce the frequency of it, using case studies where this method has previously worked.

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