General Article ‘Religious freedom’ claims used to defend FGM in courts in four countries

Topic Selected: Religion Book Volume: 358

Cases come as rights advocates warn such arguments are increasingly being ‘weaponised’ against women’s and LGBT equality.

By Claire Provost and Nandini Archer

Doctors and lawyers in at least four countries have recently argued in court that bans on female genital mutilation (FGM) violate ‘religious freedom’.

Three of these cases – in India, the US and Australia – involved members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect within Shia Islam with about a million followers, primarily in Gujarat, India and the diaspora.

Around 75% of girls in this community have experienced khafz – removing the ‘hood’ of the clitoris of seven-year-old girls – according to the survivor-led organisation WeSpeakOut.

The fourth case involves a doctor in Kenya who filed a petition last year to legalise FGM, claiming that her country’s 2011 ban breaches constitutional rights to ‘f

Would you like to see the rest of this article and all the other benefits that Issues Online can provide with?

Sign up now for an immediate no obligation FREE TRIAL and view the entire collection