The law 

What does the law say?

Different international conventions have been ratified by numerous African countries such as the International Convention on the Rights of the Child or the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (1990) Cl. 24: State Parties recognise the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS (1986) Cl.4: Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.

Excision is illegal in Belgium.

Excision is punishable by law in Belgium, as is the case in numerous European and African countries such as Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, etc.

Clause 409 of the Criminal Code (in force since 1st April 2001)

The perpetrators (parents and/or excisors) can be prosecuted for an excision carried out in Belgium, Europe or during a holiday in Africa.

Any person, doctor or ordinary citizen who is aware of a risk of excision must protect the young girl in danger by reporting it to the police or calling 101 (police) / 112 (European emergency number).

Something to think about …

Laws are needed to draw up a framework and set down limits. But if community awareness is not raised on this issue, convincing people of the harm involved, the law will not stop it, and clandestine mutilation will continue.

Community participation is vital if we want to make progress! Can you think of what action is required to bring an end to this practice? Give some examples!