Gender equality and human rights approaches to female genital mutilation: a review of international human rights norms and standards

Rajat Khosla, Joya Banerjee, Doris Chou, Lale Say and Susana T. Fried

This paper aims to ensure that health providers understand international policy and the human rights basis for upholding women and children’s human rights when it comes to female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite decades of concerted efforts to eradicate or abandon the practice, present efforts have not yet been able to effectively curb the number of women and girls subjected to this practice, nor are they sufficient to respond to health needs of millions of women and girls living with FGM. International efforts to address FGM have thus far focused primarily on preventing the practice, with less attention to treating associated health complications, caring for survivors, and engaging health care providers as key stakeholders. Recognizing this imperative, WHO developed guidelines on management of health complications of FGM. In this paper, the practice of FGM is framed as a rights violation in the context of international and national policy and efforts, and explore the role of health providers in upholding health-related human rights of women at girls who are survivors, or who are at risk. The findings are based on a literature review of relevant international human rights treaties and UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies.

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