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9 Diritto & Questioni Pubbliche 485 (2009)
Revisiting the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Discourse

handle is hein.journals/dirquesp9 and id is 476 raw text is: 

                      MARIA   CATERINA LA BARBERA

     Revisiting   the anti-Female Genital Mutilation Discourse

     1. Introduction - 2. What is in a Name? - 3. Why are Ritual Female Genital
     Cuttings Performed? - 4. Anti-FGA  Laws  in Colonial Africa - 5. Notes on
     Victorian Clitoridectomy, Designer Vaginoplasty, and Silicone Breast Implant - 6.
     Controlling Processes: the Concept ofHealth -7. Conclusions

1.  Introduction

All forms  of ritual female genital cuttings have increasingly been  object of
legislation, not only in African countries where they  have mostly  been  per-
formed, but  also in Western countries where  African migrants have been  set-
tled'. Western legislators have adopted two  main different approaches: either
prosecuting ritual female genital cuttings under the existing penal law or making
ad hoc laws. Their symbolic function is evidently different as well as the results.
Albeit making  a specific law condemns   openly the practices, it is remarkable
that the only Western country were ritual female genital cuttings are systemati-
cally prosecuted is France, where it is done under the existing criminal law.
Prosecuting these practices under the pre-existent criminal law guarantees the
formal respect of the equal protection principle because the law is applicable to
everyone  regardless of the ethnicity. Yet, as a matter of fact, these practices are
perfonned  only by  one part of the population, specifically by migrants from
former  colonies. Vice  versa,  ad  hoc  laws  recognize  the  specificity and

    See, for example, in the UK, the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985
(replaced by the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003); in the USA, the Federal
Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (1995), integrated in specific legislations
at the state level; in Italy, the recent law n. 7/2006, Provisions Concerning the
Prevention and Ban of the Practice of Female Genital Mutilation.
2   The article 222-9 of the French Penal Code states: ((The violence that leads to
mutilation or permanent infirmity is punishable by ten years imprisonment and a fine of
150.000 euros>> [the translation is mine]. Also in The Netherlands ritual female genital
cuttings have been considered a criminal offence under the preexistent criminal law
since 1992, but not a single court case has taken place.

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