The practice of Female genital mutilation and the limits of criminalization under Ethiopian laws

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Behaylu Girma


The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice that is carried out by more than 30 African and Middle East Countries. It is labeled as one of the harmful traditional practices and crimes against women and girls. FGM is highly prevalent in Ethiopia. In order to address the problem, the government has criminalized the practice under the 2004 Criminal Code. Instead of using words that indicate the gravity of the practice such as female genital cutting or mutilation, the law, however, has used ‘circumcision’ which is a less condemning word. Besides, the law has not criminalized the full scale of FGM. These shortcomings have undermined the effectiveness of the law to criminalize and deter the practice. Consequently, the practice is unabated to date and continued to be practiced in different parts of the country with different magnitude and justifications. Through reviewing and analyzing the pertinent international human rights instruments and literature, this study has identified the limits of criminalization of FGM in Ethiopia.

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