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Shifting Global Powers and International Law by Charles Sampford, Bridget Lewis, Rowena Maguire

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13 Legal, cultural and practical developments in responding to female genital mutilation

Can an absolute human right emerge?

Ben Mathews1

Introduction

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice which involves the deliberate, non-therapeutic physical modification of young girls' genitalia.2 FGM can take several forms, ranging from smaller incisions, to removal of the clitoris and labia, and narrowing or even closing of the vagina. While often thought by adherents to be required by religion, FGM historically predates and has no basis in the Koran, or any other religious text. Rather, it is a cultural tradition, particularly common in Islamic societies in regions of Africa, which is motivated by a patriarchal society's desire to control ...

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