Women and Justice: Topics: Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking, Statutory rape or defilement

Legislation

Criminal Code Act (1924)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape, Stalking, Statutory rape or defilement

The Criminal Code Act 1924 prohibits forced and unauthorized abortions and assaults on pregnant women, sexual violence, stalking, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation. The termination of a pregnancy by a person other than a medical practitioner or the pregnant woman herself is a crime at any stage of the pregnancy. Termination carried out without the pregnant woman’s consent is a crime if it is performed intentionally or recklessly, regardless if any other harm is inflicted on the woman. Any person who unlawfully assaults a woman, knowing that woman is pregnant, is guilty of assault on pregnant woman under section 184A of the Act. Any person who has sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent is guilty of rape under section 185 of the Act. “Sexual intercourse” is defined as the penetration of a person’s vagina, genitalia, anus or mouth by a penis, the penetration of a person’s vagina, genitalia or anus by another body part or object, or the continuation of either act of penetration. “Consent” means free agreement, and does not include, among other things, if a person does not say or do anything to communicate consent.  Additionally, it is a crime to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 according to section 124 of the Act. A person is guilty of stalking if they, among other things, follow, surveille, threaten, direct abusive acts towards, communicate, send or publish offensive material, or contact another person or a third person, with intent to cause the another person physical or mental harm, including self-harm or extreme humiliation or to be apprehensive or fearful under section 192 of the Act. Under section 170A of the Act, a person commits persistent family violence in relation to another person with whom the person is, or has been, in a family relationship is guilty of persistent family violence when the accused has committed unlawful family violence on at least three occasions. Family violence includes, among other things, acts of physical, psychological and economic abuse, with the specific definitions set out in the Family Violence Act 2004. Under section 178A, any person who performs female genital mutilation on another person is guilty of a crime, regardless of custodial consent. Removing or making arrangements to remove a child from Tasmania with the intention of having female genital mutilation performed on the child is also a crime.



Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

As stated in the accompanying Explanatory Memorandum, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act aims to “prohibit[] all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provide[] maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.” The Act provides general protections against offenses including infliction of physical injury, coercion, offensive conduct, willfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, willfully making false statements against another person, damage to property with intent to cause distress, and deprivation of personal liberty. The Act also provides protections against offenses that affect women disproportionately, including a prohibition of female genital mutilation; forceful ejection from home; forced financial dependence or economic abuse; forced isolation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; harmful widowhood practices; and spousal battery, among others. Notably, the Act defines the offense of rape in Section 1(1) without an exception for marital rape, which had not traditionally been recognized as an offense (note that the Penal Code Act of 1960 does include an exception for marital rape). The Act provides a procedure for injured parties to apply for a protection order and empowers the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory with jurisdiction to hear and grant applications brought under the Act. As stated in Section 47, the Act is a product of federal legislation enacted in regard to criminal law, a residual matter over which the states have exclusive legislative power pursuant to the Nigerian Constitution. Thus, the VAPP Act applies only to the Federal Capital Territory and is not binding law in a state unless adopted by that state.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code, Article 66a: Mandatory expulsion of foreign nationals for female genital mutilation and certain other offenses (2019)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, International law, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Article 66a provides that a foreign national shall be expelled from Switzerland for a period of five to 15 years if they are convicted of, among other things, female genital mutilation (Penal Code Art. 124, para. 1), forced marriage or forced registered partnership (Penal Code Art. 181a), trafficking in human beings (Penal Art. 182), sexual acts with children (Penal Code Art. 187, para. 1), sexual coercion (Art. 189), rape (Art. 190), sexual acts with persons incapable of judgement or resistance (Art. 191), encouraging prostitution (Art. 195), aggravated pornography (Art. 197, para. 4, second sentence – pornography containing genuine sexual acts with minors), genocide (Art. 264), crimes against humanity (Art. 264a), serious violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 (Art. 264c), and other war crimes (Art. 264d and 264h). Unofficial English translation available here. 



Straftwek van België/Code pénal de Belgique (Criminal Code of Belgium)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

Article 409 of the Belgian Criminal Code criminalizes (i) the execution or facilitation of female genital mutilation which is penalized with imprisonment, ranging from three to five years, and (ii) the attempt, incitement, advertising or the spreading of advertisements, which is penalized with imprisonment ranging from eight days to one year. The Article includes several aggravating circumstances, which will increase the severity of the punishment.



Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (2000)

Employment discrimination, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender discrimination, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape

The purpose of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act is to give effect to section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, read in conjunction with item 23(1) of its sixth schedule. The effect of this is to prevent and prohibit unfair discrimination and harassment; to promote equality and eliminate unfair discrimination; to prevent and prohibit hate speech; and to provide for matters connected therewith. Section 8 expands on the provisions of Section 9 by setting out, without limitation, the following specific examples of such prohibited discrimination: (a) gender-based violence; (b) female genital mutilation; (c) the system of preventing women from inheriting family property; (d) any practice, including traditional, customary or religious practice, which impairs the dignity of women and undermines equality between women and men, including the undermining of the dignity and well-being of the girl child; (e) any policy or conduct that unfairly limits access of women to land rights, finance, and other resources; (f) discrimination on the ground of pregnancy; (g) limiting women’s access to social services or benefits, such as health education and social security; (h) the denial of access to opportunities, including access to services or contractual opportunities for rendering services for consideration, or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons; and (i) systemic inequality of access to opportunities by women as a result of the sexual division of labor.  The Act further regulates which party will bear the burden of proof in discrimination cases and further sets out which factors should be taken into account in determining whether discrimination is fair or unfair.

Wet op die Bevordering van Gelykheid en die Voorkoming van Onbillike Diskriminasie (2000)

Diskriminasie op werksgeleenthede, verminking van vroulike geslagsorgane of sny van vroulike geslagsdele, geslagsdiskriminasie, geslagsgebaseerde geweld in die algemeen, skadelike tradisionele praktyke, regte op erf en erfenis, seksuele geweld en verkragting​

Die doel van die Wet op die Bevordering van Gelykheid en die Voorkoming van Onbillike Diskriminasie is om uitvoering te gee aan artikel 9 van die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid Afrika, in samewerking met artikel 23(1) van die Grondwet se sesde skedule. Die effek hiervan is om onbillike diskriminasie en teistering te voorkom en te verbied; om gelykheid te bevorder en onbillike diskriminasie uit te skakel; om haat-spraak te voorkom en te verbied; en om voorsiening te maak vir aangeleenthede wat daarmee verband hou. Artikel 8 brei die bepalings van Artikel 9 uit, sonder beperking, deur die volgende spesifieke voorbeelde van sodanige verbode diskriminasie uiteen te sit: (a) geslagsbaseerde geweld; (b) geslagtelike verminking van vroulike geslag; (c) die stelsel wat voorkoom dat vrouens familie-eiendom erf; (d) enige praktyk, met inbegrip van tradisionele, gebruiklike of godsdienstige praktyk, wat die waardigheid van vrouens belemmer en die gelykheid tussen vrouens en mans ondermyn, insluitend die ondermyning van die waardigheid en welstand van die meisie-kind; (e) enige beleid of optrede wat vrouens se toegang to grondreg, finansies en ander hulpbronne beperk; (f) diskriminasie op grond van swangerskap; (g) beperking van vrouens se toegang tot maatskaplike dienste of voordele soos gesondheidsopvoeding en sosiale sekuriteit; (h)  die weierig van toegang tot geleenthede, insluitende toegang tot dienste of kontraktuele geleenthede vir die lewering van dienste vir oorweging, of versuim om stappe te neem om die behoeftes van sulke persone redelik te voorsien; en (i) sistematies ongelykheid van toegang tot geleenthede van vroue as gevolg van die seksuele verdeling van arbeid. Die Wet reguleer verder watter party die bewyslas in diskriminasiesake sal dra en lê verder uit watter faktore in ag geneem moet word by die bepaling of die diskriminasie billik of onbillik is.



Codice Penal (1930)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

The Italian Penal Code prohibits domestic violence (art. 572), female genital mutilation (art. 583), and harassment (art. 612). Punishable crimes against a person's freedom also include slavery and forced prostitution (art. 600), human trafficking (art. 601), and sexual violence (art. 609). Sexual acts coerced through violence, threats, or abuse of authority carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years. Aggravating factors in sexual violence cases include pregnancy, a victim under 14 years old, and use of a weapon. Sexual acts with a minor are not punishable when(1) the perpetrator is also a minor, (2) the minor is at least 13 years old, and (3) the age difference between the two is no more than three years (art. 609).



Código Penal (Penal Code) (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Under section 142 (Crimes against people) of the Portuguese Penal Code, abortion is permitted if performed by a doctor and in the following scenarios: (1) risk of death or grave physical or mental harm to the mother; (2) the fetus is in risk of grave illness or malformation, up to the 24th week of pregnancy; (3) pregnancy was caused by rape or sexual assault, up to the 16th week of pregnancy; (4) by the mother’s choice, up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Article 118 provides that the statute of limitations on crimes of sexual violence and female genital mutilation against minors do not expire until the victim is at least 23 years old. Prostitution is not considered a crime in Portugal. However, the economic exploitation of prostitution by third parties is considered a crime under the Penal Code. A homicide that reveals “especial censurabilidade ou perversidade” (special censorship or perversity) is punishable with 12 – 25 years imprisonment. These special circumstances include a current or former spousal relationship between the perpetrator and victim, a sexual motive, and hate crimes including those based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Article 144a bans female genital mutilation and imposes a prison sentence of two to 18 years. Articles 154b, 159, and 160 ban forced marriage, slavery, and human trafficking, respectively. Article 163 bans sexual coercion, which carries a sentence of one to eight years for coercing a significant sexual act. Article 164 punishes “violação”, which is forcible intercourse, with imprisonment for one to six years.



The Revised Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (2004)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Ethiopian Criminal Code criminalizes most forms of violence against women and girls including physical violence within marriage or cohabitation (Article 564), Female Genital Mutilation/ Circumcision (Articles 565-6), trafficking women (Article 597), rape (Articles 620-28), prostitution/exploitation of another for financial gain (Article 634), and early marriage (Article 648). The Criminal Code outlaws abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, risk to the life of the mother or fetus, severe or incurable disease or birth defect, a mother who is mentally or physically incapable of raising a child, or “grave and imminent danger” that can only be addressed by terminating the pregnancy.



Social and Economic Development Policy Act (2006)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Employment discrimination, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Section 7 (Gender Equity, Equality and Empowerment) provides for: (a) gender equality through gender policy aimed at the elimination of structural gender biases and increased participation in education; (b) strengthening the activities of Ministry of Gender Development and women’s rights NGOs; (c) adequate protection from violence through penal and civil sanctions; (d) protection of female children, notably from female genital mutilation, early marriage, and teenage pregnancy; (e) increasing women’s participation in labour force and policy and economic institutions; (f) elimination of legal and customary practices which are barriers to ownership of land, capital and other property; and (g) establishing reproductive health services.



Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch/Swiss Penal Code (2014)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

Art. 124: A person who seriously injures a female’s genitals can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or fined.  A person may be punished for causing such injuries abroad if the person is not extradited.

Art. 181a: The statute provides that anyone who coerces someone to marry or register a same-sex partnership by the use of force or threats can be punished by sentence of custody of up to five years.  The statute applies even if the marriage occurred outside Switzerland if the person has not been extradited. 

Art. 187: A person can be punished by up to five years in custody or a fine for (1) committing a sexual act with a person under 16 years old, (2) inciting a child under 16 to commit a sexual act, or (3) involving a child under 16 in a sexual act.

Art. 190: A person can be sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in custody or a fine for using violence, threats, or psychological pressure to force a female to engage in a sexual act, or for making her incapable of resisting. 

Art. 195: A person can be sentenced to 10 years in custody or fined for (1) inducing or encouraging a minor to engage in prostitution for financial gain, (2) inducing a person into prostitution by taking advantage of their dependency, (3) restricting a prostitute’s freedom to act by controlling his or her work as a prostitute, or (4) making a person continue as a prostitute against his or her will.

Art. 198: A person may be fined for offending someone by performing a sexual act in the presence of another who is not expecting it or sexually harassing someone through physical acts or indecent language. 



Law No. 06/019 of 20 July 2006, Modifying and Completing the Decree of 6 August 1959 Relating to the Congolese Penal Procedure Code (2006)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced sterilization, Gender-based violence in general, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This law requires the courts to secure the privacy and dignity, as well as physical and psychological well-being of victims of sexual violence during proceedings.  However, it does not detail any specific measures to be undertaken.  The law also stops courts from inferring sexual consent from silence or lack of resistance and prevents courts from taking into consideration a victim’s sexual history in ascertaining a defendant’s guilt.



Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2010 (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (“PFGM”) outlaws all acts of FGM on oneself and others as well as attempts, procurement, and participation.  It allows no exceptions for consent, religion, or culture, and creates a duty to report to the police any knowledge of planned or completed FGM.  The penalty is imprisonment not to exceed 10 years for the perpetrator and five years for any participants or abettors.  Violations are considered aggravated if the FGM causes death, the offender has control over the victim (e.g., a parent or guardian), the victim has a disability, the victim contracts HIV/AIDS, and/or the perpetrator is a health worker.  The penalty for aggravated violations is life imprisonment.  The PFGM Act also prohibits any discrimination against women and girls who have not undergone FGM and discrimination against male relatives of women who have not undergone FGM.  



Domestic Case Law

RRT Case No. 1101038 Refugee Review Tribunal (2011)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Harmful traditional practices

The applicant appealed a decision denying her a protection visa. The applicant demonstrated evidence that if she returned to Uganda, she would be forced to undergo FGM.  The applicant was a member of the Sabiny tribe, meaning her father’s family had the right under Ugandan law to take her away from her mother and compel her to obey traditional practices, including FGM. She further testified that if she returned to Uganda there would be a risk of abuse as she was a Christian, which was not accepted in her family village. Furthermore, when she was 12, her family found a potential husband for her, a witchdoctor who believed in Satan and professed sacrificing people to achieve a particular objective. She was therefore afraid that if she returned to Uganda, she would be forced to marry this individual, who believed that sacrificing people could bring him power and money. The tribunal found that the applicant was a person to whom Australia owed protection obligations.



RRT Case No. 0808751 Refugee Review Tribunal (2009)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The applicant sought a review of a decision to refuse her a protection visa under s65 of the Migration Act 1958. The application was refused because the applicant was allegedly not a person to whom Australia had protection obligations arising out of the Refugees Convention. The tribunal investigated the history of the victim and her claims of substantial risk of being forced to undergo FGM if she returned to Uganda. The evidence presented included the fact that the process is not illegal in Uganda, that her father is relatively high-ranking in a tribe that finds FGM extremely important, and that she has in the past been abducted in order to be forced to undergo the process. She changed schools and stayed with relatives, but those means of escape have not worked as eventually her father and his tribe were always able to find her. As such, the tribunal concluded that there was a risk of serious harm if the applicant were forced to return to Uganda. It also concluded that she does satisfy the s36(2)(a) of the Migration Act and was therefore a person to whom Australia has protection obligations.



Bah v. Mukasey United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2008)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, International law

Three plaintiffs from Guinea who underwent female genital mutilation (“FGM”) appealed decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), which had denied their claims for relief and withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture based on FGM. An applicant who demonstrates past persecution benefits from the presumption that he or she faces future persecution, unless the government shows either a change of circumstances such that the applicant’s life or freedom would not be threatened upon return to his or her native country, or a reasonable possibility of internal relocation within the country. Here, the BIA found that the presumption was automatically rebutted because the FGM had already occurred. On appeal, the Second Circuit held that the fact that an applicant had already undergone FGM cannot, in and of itself, rebut the presumption that her life or freedom will be threatened in the future. In doing so, the Second Circuit found that the BIA had committed two significant errors in its analysis. First, it assumed that FGM is a one-time act without placing the burden on the government to show that the individuals in this case are not at risk of further mutilation. Second, to rebut the presumption, the government must show that changed conditions in the country obviate the risk to life or freedom related to the original claim; it is not enough that the particular act of persecution suffered by the victim in the past might not reoccur. The Second Circuit accordingly vacated the BIA decisions and remanded the cases.



Kone v. Holder United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices, International law

The plaintiff, who was from Côte d'Ivoire, appealed a Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) decision affirming the denial of her asylum application, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture. Her asylum claim was based on female genital mutilation (“FGM”) and her fear that her daughters would be subjected to FGM if she was removed. An applicant who demonstrates past persecution benefits from the presumption that he or she faces future persecution unless the government rebuts that presumption by showing that there is either a change of circumstances such that the applicant’s life or freedom would not be threatened upon return to his or her native country, or a reasonable possibility of internal relocation within the country. Here, the BIA found that the plaintiff’s several voluntary return trips to her native country prior to her application for asylum rebutted that presumption and undermined her credibility. The Second Circuit disagreed, finding that a safe return on one occasion does not preclude potential future harm and that the regulation does not require an applicant to show that she would immediately be persecuted upon return. Similarly, the Second Circuit also found that an applicant’s return trips are not sufficient to undermine an applicant’s credibility. The Second Circuit accordingly vacated the BIA decision and remanded the case, noting that the agency may wish to consider the application for “humanitarian asylum.”



Magerer v. Republic High Court of Kenya at Bomet (2016)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The appellant was convicted of (i) aiding the commission of female genital mutilation (“FGM)” on several girls, (ii) failing to report the commission of FGM, and (iii) allowing her premises to be used to perform FGM.  She pled guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to pay a fine of Kshs. 200,000 (or 3 years of imprisonment if she defaulted on the payment).  On appeal, she argued that the sentence was overly harsh and oppressive because she was a single mother of three children.  Justice M. Muya upheld her sentence, as it was the minimum allowed under the Female Genital Mutilation Act.  The Justice in this case noted that within this case “lies the clash between traditional values and the law of the land.”  Even though the appellant was abiding by a customary practice, it was in violation of Kenyan criminal law, and thus the appellate court upheld her sentence. 



SVFB v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2004)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

A citizen of Nigeria sought protection for fear that she would be subject to female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found that female genital mutilation constitutes serious harm amounting to persecution, but that on the facts, there was no real risk that the applicant would be subjected to female genital mutilation.



VWFG v. Minister for Immigration & Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Federal Court of Australia (2005)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general, Harmful traditional practices

A citizen of Ghana sought protection for fear that she would be subject to arranged marriage and female genital mutilation. The Refugee Review Tribunal found the applicant to be not credible, in part because she could not identify the ethnic group that the proposed husband came from. The court found these factual conclusions satisfactory and affirmed.



XII ZB 166/03 Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) (2004)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

The Court affirmed the decision of the lower court which had prohibited the parents of a young daughter with Gambian nationality resident in Germany from determining her whereabouts and relocating her to Gambia due to a high risk of FGM/C being performed on the daughter in Gambia. This decision paved the way for several similar decisions by lower courts protecting girls from potential FGM/C during trips to their home countries in cases where a high risk of FGM/C was prevalent in the home country.



Claimant (on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children) v. the State Secretary of Justice District Court of the Hague (2008)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The government had denied three of the claimant’s applications for residence under the Aliens Act 2000. The appeal stemmed from the dispute about whether the claimant’s minor daughter was at risk for inhuman treatment (specifically, FGM) in Chad under the European Convention on Human Rights. The claimant argued that her daughter was, as a Hadjarai woman, “very strongly” at risk of FGM, and she herself had been circumcised. The government denied that FGM is a matter of tradition, ethnicity, and religion and claimed that the claimant’s story was inconsistent with what was known about FGM in Chad. The District Court found that the government’s decision was subject to review referring to a U.S. Department of State report that stated that though violence against women and FGM were prohibited by law in Chad, FGM was widespread, deeply rooted in tradition and rarely prosecuted. Further, 93% of Hadjarari women were circumcised. The District Court ordered the government to decide the claimant’s application in light of the Court’s findings.



N. de pourvoi: 84-95759 Cour de Cassation, chambre criminelle (1986)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Female infanticide and feticide

Two parents sought the assistance of a non-identified female in carrying out a circumcision of their daughter, then aged 21 months and 25 days. The infant’s parents proceeded to assist the non-identified female in the act by immobilising their child throughout the operation. The child subsequently suffered from an external hemorrhage caused by an aperture of the wound, causing anaemia and loss of appetite. The infant’s parents did not at this stage bring the child’s critical condition to the attention of a doctor or emergency services. The child died shortly thereafter. The infant’s parents were convicted of voluntary grievous bodily harm resulting in the involuntary death of a minor which is prohibited in accordance with article 312 of the French Penal Code and failing to assist in the prevention of the child’s death. The case demonstrates the severity with which the French courts will hold parents liable for not only assisting in the practice of female circumcision, but also for failing to prevent the adverse consequences that it may entail.

Deux parents ont obtenus l’assistance d’une troisième personne pour circoncir leur fille, agée de 21 mois et 25 jours. Les parents du nourrisson ont assisté à l’acte par immobilisant leur enfant. Par la suite, le nourrisson a souffert d’une hémmoragie externe, ce qui a causé l’anémie et une perte de l’apétit chez l’enfant. Les parents n’ont pas porté l’attention d’un médecin ni des services de secours à l’état de santé critique de l’enfant. Peu de temps après, l’enfant périt. Les parents ont étés condamnés de maux corporelles graves et volontaires resultant en la mort involontaire d’une mineure, ainsi de ne pas aider en la prevention du mort de l’enfant, ce qui est interdite en accordance avec l’article 312 de la Code pénale française. Les parents ont aussi étées trouvés en violation de la Convention européenne de la droit de l’homme. Les cours français tiendront responsible non seulement les parents qui assistant à la circoncision feminine mais aussi ceux qui ne faites pas l’éffort de prévenir les consequences negatives de cette pratique.



In re A-T United States Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) (2011)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage, Gender discrimination, Harmful traditional practices, International law, Sexual violence and rape

After over six years in immigration court, an immigration judge reversed his previous judgment to give a woman from Mali asylum protection in the United States. As a child in Mali, the woman was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). She studied in the United States; her father then ordered her back to Mali to marry her first cousin, despite the fact that she already had three children in the U.S. Fearing forcible marriage and rape for herself and forced FGM for her daughters, the woman applied for asylum. The immigration court denied her request initially in 2004. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals reasoned that FGM is a one-time occurrence, making future persecution unlikely. However, in 2008, the Attorney General intervened, pointing to the interconnectedness of sexual violence and the possibility of future persecution. The Attorney General directed that the case be reconsidered, and after a new trial, the judge granted the woman asylum, indicating that the threat of spousal rape alone was enough to constitute persecution. The case is important for asylum applicants, because violent acts like FGM are no longer to be considered isolated events unlikely to lead to further persecution.



Law & Advocacy for women in Uganda v. Attorney General Constitutional Court of Uganda (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

Petitioners challenged the tribal practice of female genital mutilation and argued that it is inconsistent with the Ugandan Constitution. They argued that the practice is cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and endangers the right to life and privacy under the Constitution. The two issues before the court were whether the petition raised any matter for constitutional interpretation and whether the practice of female genital mutilation should be declared as null and void under the constitution. At trial, petitioners produced unchallenged affidavits supporting the fact that female genital mutilation was practiced crudely, wantonly, and without anesthesia, causing permanent damage and trauma to the victim, including incontinence, paralysis, and even death. The court first held that the petition did raise serious questions for constitutional interpretation. Second, the court held that, while the Constitution protects free exercise of cultural or religious custom, such exercise must not infringe on human dignity or the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Thus, the court held that female genital mutilation was inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, and thus declared the custom void.



RH 2007:7 Court of Appeals for Western Sweden (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

["Anyone committing a breach of Section 1 is to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than four years. If the offense has caused danger to life, serious illness, or has involved conduct of an unusually ruthless character in some other respect, it shall be regarded as grave. For a grave offence the sentence is a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than ten years.] [A sentence for liability pursuant to Chapter 23 of the Penal Code is to be passed on anyone found guilty of attempting, preparing or conspiring to commit the above offence, or of failing to report it."] A girl who had been raised in Sweden and who knew nothing about genital cutting before going to Somalia, was while in Somalia, completely at the mercy of her father as her only caregiver. The girl had on two occasions tried to escape from Somalia in order to rejoin her mother in Sweden. After an initial failed attempt, the girl succeeded in fleeing. It was established that the operation had been performed after the first escape attempt, and it appeared to have been done both as a reprisal for the girl's attempt to escape and as a way to get her to conform to the will of the father, together with the fact that she was soon to be married off.  At the time of the surgery, the girl was eleven to twelve years old.  The court considered that the fact that the father took advantage of the girl's helplessness and the fact that it was particularly difficult for the girl to defend herself against the crime was an aggravating factor in sentencing. During the surgery, the girl was forced to lie down on her bed while her father and another man held her legs apart. Using a razor blade, a third man cut the girl's genitals. The Court of Appeal found that the act constituted serious assault and had been very abusive to the girl. The surgery was carried out without anesthesia, and not by a doctor or in a hospital but in the home of the father. Apart from the fact that the surgery was performed in a place where the girl should normally expect to be safe, the crime also exposed the girl to the risk of acute medical complications, and the risk of long-term psychological and physical harm was also evident. The physical damage was considered to be irreparable and may lead to future problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. Of importance is also the statement by the girl that she was terrified during the surgery. In an overall assessment, the Court of Appeal established the compensation for damages and additional compensation for pain and suffering and for travel expenses at a total of SEK 296,045. The father was also sentenced to two years imprisonment.



Fornah (FC) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department House of Lords (2006)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The appellant arrived in the UK in March 2003, aged 15, and claimed asylum on the basis that she would be at risk of subjection to female genital mutilation if she was returned to Sierra Leone.   The House of Lords held that women in societies who practiced female genital mutilation were 'members of a particular social group' for the purposes of the Refugee Convention and affirmed that FGM was considered a form of torture.  



P. and M. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department Court of Appeal of United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (2004)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The first appellant, P, was seeking asylum from being returned to Kenya on the grounds of a fear of persecution because of the violence that both she and her children had suffered from her husband in Kenya, especially as domestic violence tends to be accepted in Kenya and the police had not effectively protected her against her husband.   The second appellant, M, seeks asylum on the grounds of fearing that she would be subjected to female genital mutilation at the hands of her father, who is a member of the Mungiki sect that practices FGM, and who had already previously performed FGM on her mother, causing her mother's death. The Court allowed both appeals for asylum, but did stipulate that not all cases of either domestic violence or FGM would automatically give rise to a claim to protection and asylum. 



International Case Law

S.F.A. v. Denmark CEDAW Committee (2018)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Forced and early marriage

S.F.A., a Somali national, applied for asylum in Denmark for herself and her son born in 2013.  She was subjected to female genital mutilation as a child and her father wanted to marry her forcibly to an older man.  She had a relationship against her family’s wishes with H., became pregnant and had an abortion.  Her father learned about the abortion and her brothers threatened to hand her over to Al-Shabaab.  She left Somalia and ended up in Italy.  H. traveled to Italy, they got married and she became pregnant and H. died.  S.F.A. and her baby traveled to Denmark without documents and she applied for asylum.  Denmark rejected her asylum application and dismissed her claim.  She filed a complaint with CEDAW claiming that, if she and her son were deported to Somalia she would be personally exposed to serious forms of gender-based violence, as defined under articles 2, 12, 15 and 16 of the Convention.  The Committee noted that the Danish authorities found that S.F.A.’s account lacked credibility due to factual inconsistencies and lack of substantiation and that they considered the general situation in Somalia.  The Committee rejected her claim that the fact she is a single woman constitutes a supplementary risk factor in Somalia, finding that she has several close relatives in Somalia.  Based on the record, the Commission deemed the communication inadmissible under article 4(2)(c) of the Optional Protocol, finding that it was not able to conclude that the Danish authorities failed to give sufficient consideration to the application or that consideration of her case suffered from any procedural defect.



Omeredo v. Austria European Court of Human Rights (2011)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

The applicant is a Nigerian national who fled due to not wanting to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) and sought asylum in Austria. Austria rejected her application for asylum and she appealed, complaining under Article 3 of the Convention that she runs the risk of being forced to undergo FGM if she is expelled to Nigeria. The Court rejects her application because they reasoned that due to her age and work experience she should have been able to live in Nigeria on her own.



Case nr B 4231-06 Court of Appeals of Sweden (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

["A person who commits criminal acts as defined in Chapters 3, 4 or 6 against another person having, or have had, a close relationship to the perpetrator shall, if the acts form a part of an element in a repeated violation of that person's integrity and suited to severely damage that person's self-confidence, be sentenced for gross violation of integrity to imprisonment for at least six months and at most six years."] A woman was sentenced to three years imprisonment for having commissioned the genital mutilation of her daughter, and damages in the amount of 450 000 SEK were awarded to the daughter. The mother claimed that the "surgery" was carried out without her knowledge on the day of her daughter's birth. It was established that the mother's testimony was false and that the genital mutilation had been performed during a trip to Somalia in 2001. The mother was also sentenced for gross violation of integrity since she had regularly assaulted and beat the plaintiff. The daughter had also frequently been forced to undergo examination by the mother of the genital area, often in conjunction with men paying visits to the family. The court found that the examination had violated the plaintiff and was intended to violate her privacy. [Decision on file with Avon Global Center]



Collins and Akaziebie v. Sweden European Court of Human Rights (2007)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

The first applicant, the mother, filed for asylum upon arriving in Sweden, claiming she had fled Nigeria while pregnant with her daughter, the second applicant, in an attempt to flee the female-genital mutilation ("FGM") that would have been performed on her during childbirth if she stayed in Nigeria. The Swedish Migration Board rejected the asylum application, explaining that FGM was not grounds for asylum, and that FGM was outlawed by Nigerian law so it was unlikely the first applicant would be submitted to the procedure upon return to Nigeria. The Swedish Aliens Appeal Board rejected the applicant's appeal, rejecting her argument that FGM was a deep-rooted Nigerian tradition, carried out despite modern law. Following several more attempts within Sweden to be granted asylum, the applicants filed a complaint with the ECHR, alleging that if they were returned to Nigeria, they would face a high likelihood of being submitted to FGM. The argued this would violate Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The ECHR rejected the complaint, ruling that the applicants had failed to "substantiate that they would face a real and concrete risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation upon returning to Nigeria.



Reports

Avon Global Center 2013 Women and Justice Conference Report (2014)

Acid violence, Gender discrimination, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices, Gender violence in conflict, Forced and early marriage, Gender-based violence in general

In December 2013, the Avon Global Center hosted its annual conference in New York, NY on "State Responsibility to End Violence Against Women: The Due Diligence Principle and the Role of Judges."


They Took Me and Told Me Nothing (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

Human Rights Watch report on female genital mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan.



The Dynamics of Social Change: Towards the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Five African Countries (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices

Report by UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre highlighting solutions and examples of communities ending the practice of female genital mutilation. The report examines what conditions are necessary for a consensus to abandon FGM/C and identifies strategies for sustainable abandonment (2010).


Memoranda

Resources Relating to Female Genital Mutilation (2010)

Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting

This memorandum provides some resources relating to Female Genital Mutilation.