Hope Lewis

Document Type



Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) refers to a range of harmful traditional practices performed on infants, girls, and women in certain ethnic groups. This article, published in The Encyclopedia of Human Rights (David Forsythe, et al, ed., Oxford University Press, 2009) discusses the practices in the context of international human rights law. FGM-FGC, violates a number of international human rights standards, including the right to bodily integrity, the right to life, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the rights of children, and the rights of women and girls to equality and non-discrimination. Nevertheless, the practices have been difficult to eliminate because they are often deeply-rooted in cultural (but not religious) norms. The article discusses historical and contemporary indigenous and cross-cultural movements to end FGM-FGC.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Female circumcision, Women's rights, Children's rights, female genital mutilation, FGM, female genital cutting, FGC, female genital surgery, irua, sunna, excision, infibulation, violence against women, VAW, International Bill of Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ICESCR, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, Maputo Protocol, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Human Rights Law, Women

Original Citation

Originally published in Encyclopedia of Human Rights, David P. Forsythe, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, v.2 (2009), pp.200-213.