Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors.
The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
Key facts about FGM
- An estimated 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
- If current trends continue, some 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030.
- FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
- FGM cause severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth including increased risk of newborn deaths.
- FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General has said 'There is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman'. The United Nations have created an international day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation - 6 February. Source: End Female Genital Mutilation
Legislative response in NSW
The Crimes Amendment (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill 2014 introduced by the Attorney-General Greg Smith in March 2014 to amend the Crimes Act to increase the maximum penalty for performing female genital mutilation from seven years to 21 years imprisonment and to create a new offence of removing a person from New South Wales with the intention of having female genital mutilation performed on that person.
- According to the Attorney-General Greg Smith, the Government is committed to ending the practice of FGM in NSW. The Government will run a public awareness campaign to educate young women and the community about these legislative changes and the short and long term health consequences of the practice. Source: Second Reading Speech
- NSW Department of Health Education program on Female Genital Mutilation
- 'Female genital mutilation: Australian law, policy and practical challenges for doctors' by Ben Mathews, (2011) 194 (3) Medical Journal of Australia 139-141
- 'Penalties increased to 21 years for performing genital mutilation in NSW' by Sarah Gerathy, ABC News, 5 February 2014
- 'Female genital mutilation: penalties tripled in NSW' by Anna Patty, SMH, 5 February 2014
More about this issue
You can find out more on this topic and investigate it either as a criminal justice issue, a human rights issue or as a law reform in action issue. Use our research guides:
- Criminal justice issue: Female Genital Mutilation - Crime: HSC Legal Studies
- Human rights issue: Female Genital Mutilation - Human Rights: HSC Legal Studies
- Law reform in action: Female Genital Mutilation - Law reform in action: Preliminary Part I HSC Legal Studies.