Female Genital Mutilation A Violation Of Human Rights

This blog is inscribed by Deeksha Tewari.


Human rights as we all are aware are those basic rights which an individual inherits since his or her birth. It is inherent as soon as a child takes breathe on this earth irrespective of sex, caste, color, creed, ethnicity, language, etc. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document in the history of Human Rights. It was adopted by UN General Assembly on 10 Dec 1948 in Paris. In India, all the individual are governed by the Supreme law of land i.e. Indian Constitution which embraces most important aspects which protect the human from exploitations in any of the forms and to protect and preserve the dignity. 

The Constitution has in its ambit that the legislature can make law relating to women and child and the weaker section of society in order to provide a good and healthy atmosphere. This is to promote and give empowerment to the sections which usually face problems of violation of their basic and important right. 

Women in India in the past were considered to be the goddess who has taken birth on the earth to give love. The status of women was not that much lowered but in the Muslim era, the status of the women got lowered, and since then the women were seen as the vulnerable section of society whose rights and dignity need to be maintained. There are many provisions that have been time and again legislated but none has been effective in the sense as to strengthen the rights of women. 

On the International front too there is much legislation and organizations who are trying to protect the rights of women and to take them out of the category of vulnerable but still in some of the countries the rights of the women are being abridged and they are not treated humanely and hence it affects the dignity of the women.  The charter of the United Nations sets out as one of its goals to reaffirm faith in fundamental Human Rights in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women.[1]

Article 1 of the Charter stipulates that one of the purposes of the United Nations is to promote respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. This prohibition of discrimination based on sex is repeated in its Articles 13 (mandate of the General Assembly) and Article 55 (promotion of Universal Human Rights).[2]

While reading the Universal Declaration of Human rights Charter Article 25 also talks about the aspect of the right of all human beings to live in conditions that enable them to enjoy good health and health care. Furthermore, the Article discusses the right to a minimum standard of living and the protection of motherhood. Article 5 further forms the basis for the condemnation of the Act of Female Genital Mutilation as it is a violation of the right to be healthy. Article 5 of UDHR talks about a right not to be treated in a cruel and inhuman manner as everyone has the right to live with dignity and it’s an inherent right which individual has since they are born. Article 2 of UDHR talks about the aspect that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of sex, caste, religion, place of birth, etc. and Cutting Private parts of women and girls is a discriminative practice that violates the provisions of United Nations. Article 3 on the right of the security of a person states that the person should be protected and he should not live life in any fear but the women who undergo the process get a deep emotional trauma and it takes a lot of time to get healed from the pain. Article 12 of the legislation deals with the aspect related to the right to privacy and when Female goes through this process it is violating their right to do private Act as the intention behind doing Female Gentile Mutilation is that then women could not feel pleasure at the time of sex and hence would not turn bestiality.

The Convention on status of Refugee,1951 also talks about those refugees who flee because of the threat of Female Genital Mutilation and they have been given the status of refugees. The article tends to define what exactly refugee means and what are the rights of such persons and explains the duties of the concerned state where they take shelter.

Also the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on economic, social, and cultural rights, 1966 Article 12 condemns discrimination on the grounds relating to the aspects of sex and recognizes the Universal right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, 1979 requires the states to take such measures and implement such law which helps in the curbing of the Female Genital Mutilation which is violating the rights of the women. General recommendations 14 of 1990 and 24 of 1999 of the convention emphasize that certain cultures and traditional practices such as FGM carry a high risk of death and may endanger life and lead to disability and the state parties should take necessary and appropriate steps by implementing laws to prohibit FGM. The recommendations to state parties are that they should make such laws that would in turn eradicate such practices.

Going through the latest scenario of the legislation brought down the line between 2000-2016. Beijing declaration of 2000 recognizes the progress made in national efforts to ban FGM and stated that the discriminatory attitudes of the society make women and girls more vulnerable to gender-based violence which includes FGM. The government should make such effective laws, rules which eliminate violence against women.

In 2001 the European parliament adopted a resolution on FGM taking following measures:-

  1. The measure relating to those who are survivors of Female Genital Mutilation
  2. And urging the state parties to taken such measures that the right of asylum to be provided to the women and girls who are risk of Female Genital Mutilation.

In 2007 the Commission on Status of Women passed a resolution to end the Female Genital Mutilation. In 2014 the Human Rights Council produced a resolution calling for “intensifying global efforts and sharing good practices to effectively eliminate the FGM. 

Again in 2016, the United Nations General Assembly on The Girl Child Resolution recognized the Female Genital Mutilation as discrimination against a girl child and violation of the rights of the girls

Female genital mutilation is one of the violations of the Human Rights of Women. This is the biggest violation which not only deprives a woman of her freedoms and rights but also affects the dignity of her to live a good life. 6th of February is celebrated as International day of zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.  What exactly Female Genital mutilation means need to be understood. Female Genital mutilation is a violation of the right of life of women in the sense that it is the process where the traditional circumcisers intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non- medical reasons using unsafe instruments. It does not have any sort of health benefit. It is a kind of violence against women. The procedure is carried out in the girls who are aged 5 to 15 i.e. the age of infancy. The process is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

It is a violation of the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex, gender, etc. As it is done on minor girls hence it is also a violation of the rights of the child. This practice is violating so many rights such as the right to health, Right to Life, the right to be free from torture, and exploitation. The process which is carried out is violating the Right to Life in the sense that it might hamper the life and can also lead to deaths of the girls. This mostly seen to be followed in African countries. The practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, in some countries the Middle East and Asia, as well as among migrants from these areas. FGM is therefore a global concern.

There are four types of Female Genital Mutilation:

Type 1:- Clitoridectomy

It is excision of the prepuce i.e. clitoral hood and part or all of the clitoris. 

Type 2:- Excision

It is excision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

Type 3:- Infibulation 

Infibulation is excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching of the two cuts sides together to varying degrees.

Type 4:- Miscellaneous

Pricking, piercing, incision, stretching, scraping or other harmful procedures performed on the clitoris, labia or both.


The main objective behind the aspect is to deny women the ability to have pleasurable sexual intercourse and doing so causes them to reserve their sexuality for their husbands. There are different reasons behind the practice is still unclear as it differs from region to region and country to country. It is also not clear how this practice came into being but this is prevalent in the form of traditional practices. In a way, the practice attempts to control women’s sexuality and their experience of sexual pleasure and is rooted in patriarchal ideas about the purity and modesty of women. It is basically for providing pleasure to men while having sex. When the sexual Act is performed the women go through a lot of pain which in turn gives pleasure to men.

No Health Benefits Only Harm:-

If we talk about Female Genital Mutilation which was a practice followed by traditional circumscribers then we could point out the aspect that there was no health benefit in doing the particular Act. This Act involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue and interferes with the natural functions of girls and women’s bodies. Hence, it increases the risk of death and other health issues and has serious repercussions on the reproductive process.

There can be a lot of problems relating to the health of women which will also hamper the right of women to live a healthy life. 

The immediate reparations could be as follows:-

  1. Excessive bleeding while the women is giving birth to the child.
  2. Severe pain while having sexual intercourse, while the women is menstruating, while the women gives birth to a child.
  3. Genital tissue swelling 
  4. Fever
  5. Infection
  6. Urinary bleeding 
  7. Wound healing problems
  8. Injury to surrounding genital tissue
  9. Shock
  10. Death

The long term health issues could be in the form of and may include the following problems:-

  1. Urinary problems

If we talk about urinary problems it can be in the form of urinary infection or while the women goes for urination at that time she might feel pain while urinating and then iching later on which creates uncomfortableness and the women might feel irritation.

  • The second risk which could be existent is vaginal problems which could be that there is ;lot of discharge and while there is a discharge that discharge could create infection which could lead to itching ,bacterial vaginitis and other infections.
  • Women’s or girls who go through this process face menstrual problems. When the menstrual cycles comes it is very painful and they face difficulty in passing menstrual blood.
  • The other problem which is major is scar tissue and keloid.

Scar tissue refers to a thick fibrous tissue that take place of healthy ones that have been damaged healthy tissues may be destroyed from a cut, significant injury or surgery. Tissue damage may be internal, so scar tissue can form post-surgery or result of disease.

 A keloid is a type of raised scar. It is not necessary that everyone will develop a keloid after the getting of scar. If the person have keloid prone skin then anything that can cause a scar may lead to a keloid. This includes cut, burn, or severe acne.

  • It also leads problems while performing the sexual Act and satisfaction after performing the Act also gets decreased. 
  • It also increases the risks of childbirth complications i.e. there will be difficulty in delivery while giving birth the women undergo excessive bleeding and the newborn dies.
  • The Act also leads to psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder low self-esteem, etc.

Consequences Of Female Genital Mutilation For Childbirth

As per the various studies being conducted it has been found that compared to those women who do not undergo the process of Female genital mutilation the women who underwent the process is at high risk of death at the time of delivery. The child may also die due to obstructed and prolonged labour. The infants of mothers who have gone through extensive Female Genital Mutilation are at an increased risk of death during birth.

Indian Perspective:-

India is a country full of various religions, languages, traditions, and ideals. one of the traditions which also prevails in India is Female Genital Mutilation which is not only followed in the African countries but is widespread in the Dawoodi Bohra community a subsect of Shiite Islam. This process has no health benefit it is just to ensure that the women will experience no sexual pleasure hence she will not be able to bring shame to the community on the other hand it gives pleasure to the man. It also helps in the promotion of Islam religion as the man will have more peno-vaginal sex thereby making the female pregnant so many times and enlarging the population.

Usually in India this process is carried out by the middle age women or the old age women. In India there are lot more cases of female genital mutilation as it is the most open community of the Muslims who allow the girls to go out and study. As it is a cultural practice hence it takes place with many girls at the same time where the instrument use to cut the Gentile part is same hence it may lead to risk of HIV transmission.

The instruments used in the Act can be a knife, scissors, pieces of glass, razor blades. It follows this in order to deprive the women of their right to have sexual pleasure by removing that part thereby ensuring that sexual intercourse becomes just an activity of giving birth to more and more children.

This particular tradition not only violates the right to life and lives with human dignity but also violates various other rights such as the right to live in a healthy environment and the right to health. In the other way round it is violative of Article 14[3]which talks about the right to be treated equally as in the Muslim community the right of a female to have sexual pleasure is violated whereas the right of male to have sexual pleasure is enhanced thereby giving more power to males to dominate and betray their wives. The saddest part is that in India we do not have any specific law to prevent and to curb this practice which not only violates the rights as embraced by the constitution but also is violative of Universal declaration of Human rights which is an international document adopted by the United Nations in order to promote and to protect the Human Rights. Female Genital Mutilation is a subject of Shiite Islam.

In India, the Act of Female Genital Mutilation is also known as Khatana. The Act of FGM is done in all secrecy and there is no public discussion on its need as to why it is to be done. In June 2016 Syedna Mufadda Saifuddin issued a press statement in which he described circumcision as an act of “religious purity”. They say the main reason behind this is female and male circumcision, according to Da’imal- Islam is hygiene or taharat not just physical but also spiritual and religious. The Supreme Court while hearing a plea on seeking to ban Female Mutilation/ Khatana said that it is violative of Article 21 and Article 15 of the constitution which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty and that there will be no discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. In a case Justice Dipak Mishra while hearing the plea said “it is violative of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution as it puts the female child to the trauma of female genital mutilation”.[4] The women in India have provisions and cannot be expected to submit to the whims of the male. Khatana in India has been declared to be an illegal act. It is a violence against the women and hence violates all her rights which is inherent in her since the very birth.

Data Analyses Of The Practice 

The data given by the WHO states that  It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. Furthermore, there are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year. The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old.  

The data given by the UNICEF states the countries where FMG/C is prevalent with the data of the percentage of the girls who undergo FMG/C had faced different issues. Somalia is a country where 63% of girls who underwent FGM/C had their genitalia sewn closed. Guinea is also included in the list where 19% of girls and women think FGM/C should stop, compared to 42% of boys and men. 

Djibouti is also a country in East Africa where 62% of cut girls underwent the procedure between the ages of 5 and 9.

 In Egypt the girls underwent the process of the FGM/C by the medical professional. Almost 77% of the girls who have undergone FGM/C were cut by a medical profession. In criteria as FMG/C is considered to be a religious practice which is followed since long by the traditional circumcisers. There was almost 60% of girls and women went through this process in the name of religious requirements.

According to United Nations Population Fund Associations (UNFPA’S) data analyses for Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia, 74 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 have undergone some form of Female Genital Mutilation. The trends data graph depicts that the prevalence of FGM has decreased by 7 percent between 2000 and 2005, FGM (female genital mutilation) is less common among girls aged 15-19 than women aged 45-49.[5]

Countries in which FGM is banned

Africa: Benin (2003); Burkina Faso (1996); Central African Republic (1996, 2006); Chad (2003); Cote d’Ivoire (1998); Djibouti (1994, 2009); Egypt (2008); Eritrea (2007); Ethiopia (2004); The Gambia (2015); Ghana (1994, 2007); Guinea (1965, 2000); Guinea Bissau (2011); Liberia (2018, by one-year executive order); Kenya (2001, 2011); Mauritania (2005); Niger (2003); Nigeria (2015); Senegal (1999); South Africa (2000); Sudan state of South Kordofan (2008), state of Gedaref (2009); Tanzania (1998); Togo (1998); Uganda (2010); Zambia (2005, 2011)

Others: Australia (6 out of 8 states between 1994-2006); Austria (2002); Belgium (2000); Canada (1997); Colombia (Resolution No. 001 of 2009 by indigenous authorities); Cyprus (2003); Denmark (2003); France (Penal Code, 1979); Italy (2005); Ireland (2012); Luxembourg (on mutilations only, not specifically on ‘genital’ mutilation, 2008); New Zealand (1995); Norway (1995); Portugal (2007); Spain (2003); Sweden (1982, 1998); Switzerland (2005, new stricter penal norm in 2012); United Kingdom (1985); United States (1996)[6]


Female Genital Mutilation is a global concern as it not only violates Human Rights which everyone has since the birth but also has adverse effects not only physically but mentally also on the women who undergo the process. On various levels different organizations and states are making such laws and implementing such practices through the governments, politicians, media which would in turn help curb the menace. The practice also prevails in India among the Muslim community and there is a need to legislate more strict laws to curb the practice which unfortunately India does not have. In India only Article 15, 14, 21 are there which cannot fully help the women to get remedies.

[1] www.ohchr.org/documents/events/WHRD/women

[2] www.ohchr.org/documents/events/WHRD/women

[3] Article 14 of the Indian Constitution Act.

[4] Sunita Tiwari vs Union of India writ petition civil of 2017.

[5] https://www.unfpa.org/data/fgm/ET

[6] https://www.unfpa.org/resources/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-frequently-asked-questions#unfpa_approach,

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