Human rights for women: the ethical and legal discussion about Female Genital Mutilation in Germany in comparison with other Western European countries

Med Health Care Philos. 2010 Aug;13(3):269-78. doi: 10.1007/s11019-010-9245-4.


Within Western European countries the number of women and girls already genitally mutilated or at risk, is rising due to increasing rates of migration of Africans. The article compares legislative and ethical practices within the medical profession concerning female genital mutilation (FGM) in these countries. There are considerable differences in the number of affected women and in legislation and guidelines. For example, in France, Great Britain and Austria FGM is included in the criminal code as elements of crime, whereas in Germany and Switzerland FGM is brought to trial as bodily injury. So far trials only in France and Switzerland in connection with FGM resulted in convictions. France and Great Britain as former Colonial countries serve as an example of countries with a comparably great number of African immigrants. These countries have the best possibilities to intervene preventatively, due to legislation and detailed medical guidelines. For instance, an obligation exists in France to inform administrative and medical authorities if FGM is suspected. FGM so far is not explicitly part of the curriculum for medical training in any of the examined countries.

MeSH terms

  • Africa / ethnology
  • Circumcision, Female / adverse effects
  • Circumcision, Female / ethics*
  • Circumcision, Female / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Circumcision, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Human Rights Abuses / ethics
  • Human Rights Abuses / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Women's Rights / ethics*
  • Women's Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*