Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 7: Prevention: Formal Approaches

The available instruments of enforcement in eradicating female genital mutilation are both formal and informal. Whilst the prevention of FGM is self-evidently a matter for the legal authorities, this is by no means the only way in which upholding the law is – or should be – enforced.

Despite occasional attempts by some proponents of specific approaches to make the issue ‘either/or’, the effectiveness of any one prevention strategy is likely in the end to be enhanced (or just occasionally to be hampered) by the others.

The tools of enforcement include community engagement, education via schools, clinics and other public facilities, working with the transport and migration authorities, media programmes, briefing of professionals and ultimately the legal process itself.

Even all these strategies cannot, however, ensure prevention, especially when the fundamental meanings of FGM are still perceived differently by different elements of the practising communities, the preventative public and and voluntary services, and the general public.

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 8: Prevention: Communities

Female genital mutilation is a complex business. It involves deeply entrenched beliefs, real and resolute social and economic forces, human agency of a particularly intimate nature, brutality and secrecy. It is also held by large numbers of those involved, and perhaps also by the recipient of the action, to be in the best interests of the person who experiences it.

These are not easy issues to unpick, and the path towards understanding and arresting the practice is further complicated by the gulf between the traditions and beliefs which engender and enable, even ennoble, FGM, and those which proclaim it without exception to be abhorrent abuse.

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