What Eyes cannot see - FGM as an area of concern for Portuguese

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What Eyes cannot see - FGM as an area of concern for Portuguese
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Document 1: Chapter 0 – Introducing FGM:
1. Context:
1.1 Historical Roots
1.2 Localisation
1.3 Origin of the term
1.4 Types of FGM
1.5 Age performed
1.6 Instruments
1.7 Practitioners
1.8 Health effects
2. Arguments:
2.1 Cultural identity
2.2 Religion
2.3 The ritual
2.4 Human rights
2.4.1 The rights of children
2.4.2 The rights of women
Rádio França Internacional
2.4.3 The right to freedom from torture
2.4.4 The right to health and bodily integrity
2.4.5 The right to development
2.5 Public health
Document 2: E-mails to/from the Portuguese government
2.1 Inês Oliveira – Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Justice
2.2 Marina Resende – Officer at the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and
Document 3: E-mails to/from Carla Martingo
Document 4: Interview (interview guide on paper & CD)
Document 1: Chapter 0 – Introducing FGM
Chapter 0
Introducing FGM
The aim of this chapter is to provide basic information about female genital mutilation (FGM) in
order to better understand the issue in this master thesis. In this section, the reader will be informed
about the context in which FGM takes place and about the arguments to continue or to stop the
1. Context
1.1 Historical Roots
It is difficult to find literature about the origin and background of female genital mutilation (FGM).
It is clearly considered to be an ancestral tradition. However, it is not easy to stipulate the exact date
when it started because there is not enough data available. The exact start of FGM is unknown, but
the practice of FGM “dates back to 200BC […] although in many parts of West Africa, the practice
began in the 19th or 20th century” (French 2009:195). The earliest records imply that FGM is a
practice that “predates Christianity and Islam” (Skaine 2005:16).
Some authors believe that this practice had its origins in Egypt and was then spread to the Red Sea
tribes and later on into Eastern Sudan, because there have been found “well-preserved mummies
that established clitoridectomy and infibulations had occurred” (ibid.). The first recognised
reference dates from the “fifth century BC (Herodotuc)” (Billing et al. 2008:226) and explains the
“circumcision of daughters of the higher classes in Egypt and Ethiopia” (ibid.). Other authors, such
as Mackie, believe that this practice began on the Western coast of the Red Sea, “where infibulation
is most intense, diminishing to clitoridectomy in westward and southward radiation” (Mackie
1996:1003). This scholar actually argues that there is a link between infibulations and slavery in
order to make slaves “sell dearer, both for their chastity and for better confidence” (ibid.) or to
prevent pregnancy among them.
Skaine mentions the relevance of “the Egyptian pharaonic belief in the bisexuality of the gods”
(Skaine 2005:16) because they believed that the masculine soul of the women was situated in the
clitoris and the feminine soul of a man was in the prepuce; therefore, there was the need to
eliminate them by circumcision.
Some scholars agree that there are some specific reasons for the practice, for instance population
control and reduction of women’s sexual desire to keep them monogamous, as well as the social
status because a girl can only get married, enter a mosque or inherit a property if she is a “full
women” (Skaine 2005:17), which only happens through circumcision.
The foundation of FGM is still unknown, and we are faced with a tradition which goes beyond
“religion, socioeconomic status, and geography… the practice survived today, reinforced by
customs and beliefs regarding ensuring marriageability, rites of passage, maintaining girls’
chastity, hygiene, preserving fertility and enhancing sexual pleasure” (ibid.).
1.2 Localisation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are between “100 and 140 million” girls
and women (WHO 2008:4) have been subjected to female genital mutilation. There are almost
thirty countries in Africa where this practice is a modern tradition. They are located “from the
Atlantic to the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the eastern Mediterranean” (Dorkenoo et al.
2006:398). WHO estimates that “91.5 million girls and women” (WHO 2008:4) above nine years
old are subjected to the practice and there are “3 million girls” (ibid.) at risk of undergoing
circumcision every year.
Figure 1: Map of the African countries where FGM is a tradition
http://taboojive.com/female-circumcision-man-myths-and-mutilation/ 20/06/2013 – 18:24
This phenomenon not only happens in Africa but also in some countries in “Asia and the Middle
East” (WHO 2008:4) where FGM is a regular custom in a “few ethnic groups” (Skaine 2005:35),
such as Yemen, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
FGM is also found in other regions such as “Central and South America” (WHO 2008:4), Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, USA and Europe, due to growing migration, which has raised the number of
girls residing “outside their country of origin” (ibid.) and who have gone through excision.
According to the Report of Female Genital Mutilation in the European Union and Croatia, there is
no hard evidence of “FGM being practised within the EU” (Female Genital Mutilation in the
European Union and Croatia – Report 2013:13). The mutilation of women and girls living in
Europe is done in their countries of origin before they move to a European country, or while
travelling to their native country. However, widespread migration “has forced health care providers
in industrialized countries to face ethical issues they never expected to face” (Harries 2011:87).
FGM is a tradition in several countries and is exercised at “all educational levels and in all social
classes and occurs among many religious groups (Muslims, Christians and animists), although no
religion mandates it” (Population Reference Bureau 2010:2). Prevalence varies from country to
country and also within countries.
1.3 Origin of the term
FGM is a traditional practice which has been passed down from generation to generation with
harmful consequences to the lives of women and girls. This phenomenon is known by several terms
such as female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), female genital mutilation (FGM), female genital
cutting (FGC), “female circumcision, female surgeries, female traditional surgery, cutting and
excision” (Skaine 2005:7), but it always entails “the cutting or alteration of the female genitalia for
social rather than medical reasons” (Population Reference Bureau 2010:2).
The term “female cutting” has been mostly abandoned because it involves an “analogy with male
circumcision” (ibid.). The term “female circumcision” is not the most used because it also “implies
a fallacious analogy to nonmutilating male circumcision, in which the foreskin is cut off of the tip of
the penis without damaging the organ itself” (Peters & Wolper 1995:226).
The term “female genital mutilation/cutting” seems to refer to a much more “damaging and
invasive” (Population Reference Bureau 2010:2) practice than that of male circumcision. FGM is
often understood as a way to “curtail premarital sex and preserve virginity” (ibid.).
The expression “female genital mutilation” is the mostly used by women’s rights and health
supporters who desire to “emphasize the damage caused by the procedure” (ibid.). In the mid1990s, several organisations shifted to “female genital cutting” because they consider it more
neutral, as they regarded “female genital mutilation” as “judgemental, pejorative and not conducive
to discussion and collaboration on abandonment” (ibid.).
However, in this master thesis the term “female genital mutilation” will be used because the
practice involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia or “other injury to the female
organs for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons” (Comfort 2010:11), and this term gives
“weight to the severity and mutilating nature of any act of FGM” (Report 2013:21). The term has
also been adopted by the European Parliament and the European Commission (ibid.).
1.4 Types of FGM
– Type I – Clitoridectomy: “partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or prepuce” (Dean
2011:86). According to Sayed et al., this is also known in the Sunna and is “similar to a male
circumcision” (Sayed et al. 1996:286).
– Type II – Excision: “partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without
excision of the labia majora” (Dean 2011:86).
– Type III – Infibulation: “excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing
of the vaginal opening” (Reyners 2004:244).
– Type IV – “All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non medical purposes, for
example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization” (Vloeberghs et al. 2012:678).
Figure 2: Types of FGM
https://www.google.com/search?hl=da&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=667&q=fgm&oq=fgm&gs_l=img.3...5287.5903.0.6318. 16/07/2013 – 18:13
1.5 Age performed
The age of the female recipients of the procedure varies from area to area. It also depends on
whether the country has legislation against the practice or not. In some countries it is carried out
when the female children are “one week old” (French 2009:195), such as in Ethiopia and Sudan. In
other, they are as old as seven years old, for example in Egypt and many countries of Central
Africa. In some cases, it is carried out during adolescence, such as happens in Nigeria. However, it
is more likely to happen before puberty (Vloeberghs et al. 2012:678) and according to some
scholars, “the age of mutilation is becoming younger” (Dorkenoo et al. 2006:396).
1.6 Instruments
Female genital mutilation is usually performed “without any extensive form of anaesthetic or
antiseptic precautions” (Talle 2001:5448). They use instead other materials, such as “herbs, animal
fat, dung and other substances” (ibid.) because the performer of the circumcision believes that these
materials have homeostatic and cicatrizing properties, which prevent bleeding and infection. The
instruments most used are razors, knifes, pieces of glass (Strickland 2001:110); medical instruments
are less frequently used, “less than 1%” (Sayed et al. 1996:289). In the case of infibulation, the
detached parts are “stitched with thorns of the acacia species, or […] with catgut” (Talle
1.7 Practitioners
Usually, practitioners of female circumcision are women (Talle 2001:5449). The circumcisers do
not have any medical training or anatomical knowledge of the vulva. The circumcisers are
“traditionally birth attendants, local women or men or female family members” (Momoh 2010:12).
They do not sterilise the instruments or use anaesthesia. Frequently, these performers “cut or
damage more of the genital area than they intended” (ibid.).
1.8 Health Effects
The mortality of female children and women who have been through FGM is unknown because
there are few records kept and usually “deaths due to the practice are rarely reported” (Reyners
2004:244). However, brutal “physical, mental, gynaecological and reproductive” (Jina et al.
2013:20) harms of FGM have been documented.
Regarding physical harm, it is possible to classify it into three different categories having
immediate, intermediate and long-term complications. Immediate complications include
haemorrhage, pain, shock, fractures or dislocations of clavicula, urinary retention, wound infection,
tetanus, injury to other tissues, ulceration of genital region, risk of bacterial or HIV infection and
death (French 2009:197; Reyners 2004:245).
Sometimes FGM complications cannot be noticed at the time of the procedure but some days after.
In this case, it is possible to find health complications such as the following: delayed healing,
abscesses, scarring/keloid formation, dysmenorrhoea and obstruction to urinary or menstrual flow,
pelvic infection and urinary tract infection (French 2009:197).
The practice of this tradition might have as a consequence long-term complications which affect
girls and women for the rest of their lives, such as vaginal closure due to scarring; epidermal cyst
formation; pain and chronic infection from obstruction to menstrual flow; painful intercourse
(dyspareunia); infertility; childbirth trauma-perineal tears and vaginal fistulae; postnatal wound
infection and prolonged or obstructed labour from though scarred perineum; uterine inertia or
rupture; and death of infant and mother (French 2006:197).
Regarding the psychological part of the procedure, women might have trauma-related complaints,
anxiety disorders; distorted or negative self-image, feelings of incompleteness and distrust;
problems with eating, sleeping, mood, and cognition; problems with self-esteem and self-identity
and depression (Vloeberghs et al. 2012:678; Portefield 2006:259). Nevertheless, it is relevant to
take into consideration the psycho-sexual complications after the procedure such as women feeling
less female because of the lack of a typical organ; due to less libido, women are passive and and
feel sex as something repulsive they have low scores for sex frequency as well as lack of arousal
and pain during intercourse (Reyners 2004:245).
2 Arguments
2.1 Cultural identity
The ceremonies and rituals related with female circumcision are deeply associated with cultural
tradition, which believe that the “physical and psychosocial benefits of this operation” (Sayed et al.
1996:286) are important to maintain traditions, family customs and social values.
On the one hand, some believe that FGM promotes social and political cohesion by identifying
women with their cultural legacy and initiating girls “into womanhood” (Rymer 2003:185). The
communities and many women who practice FGM understand it as doing the “best for their
daughters” (Momoh 2010:12). They do not see it as a matter of abuse or as a child protection issue.
As a matter of fact, an excised woman is perceived as “spiritually ‘pure’, disciplined and able to
withstand all the hardships that are part of being a woman in her particular society” (Momoh
2010:12). If a woman is uncircumcised, she is regarded as “unnatural and shameful” (ibid.) and is
condemning herself to “exclusion and rejection and […] to a loss of the sense of belonging to a
community” (Dean 2011:87). She will, therefore, be unfit to marry and to have children because
“female circumcision is the physical marking of the marriageability of women, because it
symbolizes social control of their sexual pleasure (clitoridectomy) and their reproduction
(infibulation)” (Dean 2011:87).
FGM is also considered a prevention of promiscuity; that is, by removing the clitoris, a woman will
have reduced sexual desire and therefore will stay a virgin before marriage and “after marriage she
will remain faithful to her husband” (Rymer 2003:185). On the other hand, FGM improves male
sexual performance and pleasure due to the small vaginal orifice and, as the women do not reach
full sexual response, it “allows male domination over sexual activity” (ibid.).
Moreover, circumcision can be understood as “the preservation of the female genital organs”
(Sayed et al. 1996:286) because it enhances fertility, cleanliness3 and aesthetics4 (Rymer 2003:185).
Some communities believe that FGM is a “religious obligation” (Momoh 2010:12). However, FGM
is not referred in holy books such as the Bible and Koran. In fact, FGM started before Islam and is
not a practice in all Muslim countries. Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, there are also some
Christian communities practicing it (ibid.). In this case, one may conclude that FGM is “only a
matter of cultural practice” (Dean 2011:87). Therefore, one must understand the practice as deeply
embedded “in cultural and moral preferences, gender, identity and person forming, perceptions of
body and aesthetics, and ethnic marking” (Talle 2001:5450).
2.2 Religion
Female circumcision happens throughout the traditional cultures of “Sub-Saharan and North Africa,
the Muslim Middle East, the Jewish diaspora, Aboriginal Australia, the Pacific Islands, Southeast
Asia, and elsewhere” (Silverman 2004:419).
The pre-Judeo-Christian origins of female circumcision and its extensive occurrence among several
religious groups globally contest a “popular belief that the origins of the practice lie in formal
religious doctrine” (Yount 2004:1064). The interpretation of religious principles is used as reason
to implement or continue the practice, and the belief that the practice promotes religious or ethnic
ideals encourages its use to “assert group identity” (ibid.). But is there a religious precedent for
female genital mutilation among the following religions?
“[T]he external female genitalia are considered dirty, so if they are removed, this will promote hygiene” (Rymer
The external female genitalia are considered to be “unsightly, as the clitoris looks like a male penis” (Rymer
2003:185), which is regarded as an ugly thing. In this case a polished surface is considered aesthetic.
FGM takes place among the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia (Yount 2004:1064); however,
there is no reference in the Jewish holy book justifying the practice (Martingo
There is no reference to female circumcision in the Christian Holy Bible, only to male
circumcision (Martingo 2009:168). However, and according to Yount, FGM occurs
among Coptic Christians in Egypt (Yount 2004:1064) and in Chad “among rural
Catholics” (ibid.).
According to Islam, women have rights “similar to those of men” (Zaidi et al.
2009:151) and should be valued as equals; however, sometimes they come to suffer
due to “inappropriate interpretation of text” (ibid.). FGM in Africa is associated with
Islam, despite canonical Islamic texts presenting “little justification for the practice”
(Silverman 2004:428). Actually, according to some authors, female circumcision is
“restricted to some Muslim countries (Egypt, Indonesia, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia,
Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea
Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Togo)” (Rizvi 1999:14) and many religious leaders
perceive it as a social custom and not a religious practice. It is therefore important to
keep in mind that FGM “is not practiced in 80% of the Islamic world” (Yount
2.3 The Ritual
FGM is also seen as granting a sense of belong and identity in the culture and community (Momoh
2010:12). It is an opportunity for a girl to acquire some relevant knowledge for the rest of her life in
order to be initiated into adulthood (Dorkenoo et al. 2006:396). This day is not always characterised
by an “extensive ceremonial celebration” (Talle 2001:5449); however, on the day of the operation,
the girl will receive some presents and “the family marks the day with some extra food” (ibid.),
which is extremely important considering that usually these girls are from developing countries and
live in poverty.
2.4 Human Rights
The global discourse on female genital mutilation has been perceived as “moralizing, racially
prejudiced, and without sufficient understanding of the social and cultural context of the practice”
(Talle 2001:5450). However, many understand this practice to be a human rights violation because
“it denies women and children security and personal liberty, privacy and bodily integrity, freedom
of conscience and the right to health” (Rymer 2003:188).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is strong support to protect the rights of
the female children and women by doing away with this practice; this support is found in
international and regional human rights treaties and consensus documents. However, it is not
possible to qualify FGM as an international human rights violation because there are “no
international human rights instruments” (Shell-Duncan 2008:227) that specifically addresses FGM.
The major rights-based claims are based on the rights of children, the rights of women, the right to
freedom from torture, the right to health and bodily integrity (ibid.) and the right to development.
2.4.1 The Rights of the Child
Concerning the rights of the child, and according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child
implemented by the UN General Assembly in 1959, the child should “develop physically, mentally,
morally and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity”
(Declaration of the Rights of the Child 1959:1) due to the “inability of children below certain age to
provide informed consent” (Shell-Duncan 2008:228), which makes them “highly susceptible to
coercion by adults” (Rahman et al. 2000:23). According to Rahman and Toubia, there are other
international treaties concerning children’s wellbeing, such as:
a) Convention on the Rights of the Child5 (CRC)
Article 2 (1): “[S]tates Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present
Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind,
irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex,
language” (Rahman et al. 2000:29).
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic,
social, health and cultural rights of children. It was signed in 1989 and entered into force in 1990.
Article 3 (1): “[I]n all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private
social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the
best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” (Rahman et al. 2000:29).
Article 6 (1): “States Parties recognize that every child has the inhe
rent right to life.” (ibid.).
Article 6 (2): “States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and
development of the child.”(ibid.).
Article 16 (1): “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her
privacy.” (ibid.).
Article 19 (1): “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and
educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.” (ibid.).
Article 24 (1): “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest
attainable standard of health.” (ibid.).
Article 24 (3): “States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to
abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children” (ibid.).
Article 37: “States Parties shall ensure that: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life
imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons
below eighteen years of age” (ibid.).
b) Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child6 (ACRWC)
Article 4 (1): “[I]n all actions concerning the child undertaken by any person or authority the
best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration” (Rahman et al. 2000:29).
Article 5 (2): “States Parties […] shall ensure, to the maximum extend possible, the survival,
protection and development of the child” (ibid.).
Article 10: “[N]o child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy”
Article 14 (1): “[E]very child shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical,
mental and spiritual health” (ibid.).
Article 21 (1): “States Parties to the present Charter shall take all appropriative measures to
eliminate harmful social and cultural practices affecting the welfare, dignity, normal growth
and development of the child and in particular:
(a) those customs and practices prejudicial to the health or life of the child; and
(b) those customs and practices discriminatory to the child on the grounds of sex and status.”
2.4.2 The Rights of the Women
The rights of women as set forth by the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) entered in force in 1981. On the one hand, CEDAW
creates the obligation for the state to “modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and
women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all the other
practices which are based on the idea of [gender inequality].”7 On the other hand, CEDAW has
“limited international effectiveness” (Shell-Duncan 2008:228) due to all UN human rights treaties
The charter was adopted by today’s Africa Union in July 1990 and entered into force in 1999. It was the first regional
treaty to address children rights and was created, one, to complement CRC, and two, because the African countries were
underrepresented in the drafting process of CRC. The charter represents the main instrument of the African human
rights system for promoting and protecting child rights.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) –
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm 13/08/2013 12:57 OR (Shell-Duncan 2008:228)
being subject to a considerable number of exemptions and exclusions based on the tradition of
practices and customs (ibid.).
To some authors, such as Rahman and Toubia, “the right to be free from all form of discrimination
against women” (Rahman et al. 2000:20) is being neglected because FGM can be understood as an
oppression of “the independent sexuality of women, by altering her anatomy” (ibid.), preventing
women from having equal rights as men. This right can be recognised in the following documents:
a) Universal Declaration of Human Rights8
Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration,
without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex” (Rahman et al. 2000:22).
Article 1: “The term ‘discrimination against women’ shall mean any distinction, exclusion or
restriction made on the bases of sex, which has the effects of purpose of impairing or nullifying
the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis
of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political,
economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field” (Rahman et al. 2000:24).
c) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 2 (2): “2. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee that the
rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind
as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status.”9
There are some documents that defend equality between men and women:10
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United General Assembly on December
1948 and represents the first agreement among nations concerning human rights and recognising them as “[t]he
universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and
equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights” (The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/hr_law.shtml 18/08/2013 13:30)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx 18/08/2013 14:42
Report on Female Genital Mutilation in the European Union and Croatia (2013:33)
d) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 3: “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of
men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present
e) The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 3: “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of
men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the
present Covenant.”12
All the articles
2.4.3 The Right to Freedom from Torture
There are other approaches legitimising opposition to FGM, such as considering it a form of torture.
According to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CATCID), “prohibitions against torture are most clearly delineated” (Shell-Duncan
Article 1: “[…] the term ‘torture’ means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether
physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person […] for reasons based on
discrimination of any kind.”13 However, referring to FGM as torture can be understood as an
“attack on culture and may more likely to cause resistance than to help end the practice” (ShellDuncan 2008:228) because this practice is perceived as a “social custom valued by most
practitioners” (ibid.).
Scholars such as Rahman and Toubia defend “the rights to life and physical integrity, including
freedom from violence” (Rahman et al. 2000:23) because practice of FGM goes against one of the
“most intimate aspects of a woman’s life, her sexuality” (ibid.) and can have several consequences,
http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx 23/08/2013 12:01
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx 23/08/2013 12:04.
CATCID: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/res/39/46 13/08/2013 16:52
such as death. The authors believe that these rights are recognised in other international treaties and
conventions, such as:
a) Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”14.
Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”15.
Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment”16.
b) The Convention of the Rights of the Child
Article 19: “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and
educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence”17.
c) Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women
Article 1: “The term ‘violence against women’ means any act of gender-based violence that
results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women
[…] whether occurring in public or in private life” (Rahman et al. 2000:24).
d) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 7: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or
scientific experimentation”18.
e) Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
All articles
UDHR (1948): http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a1 13/08/2013 17:07
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a5 23/08/2013 11:45
The Convention of the Rights of the Child 1989 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
13/08/2013 17:14
http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx 23/08/2012 11:49.
2.4.4 The Right to Health and Bodily Integrity
One of the rights-based claim for opposing FGM is the “right to health and bodily integrity” (ShellDuncan 2008:228) because the practice, due to the cutting of bodily tissue relevant for the
“enjoyment of a satisfying and safe sex life” (Rahman et al 2000:27), has physical and psychological
consequences for female children and women. However, this perspective can open the opportunity
to proceed with the tradition by including “various forms of medicalization as solutions” (ShellDuncan 2008:228). There are, however, some international treaties and conventions safeguarding
these rights, such as:
a) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family”19.
b) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights20
Article 12: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the
enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”21.
c) African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights22
Article 16: “Every individual shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical
and mental health”23.
Article 12 (1): “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination
against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and
women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning”24.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a25
13/08/2013 17:57.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was signed in 1966 and entered into force in
1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social and cultural rights to individuals,
including labour rights and the right to health, the right to education and the right to an adequate standard of living
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966):
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx 13/08/2013 18:02.
African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights was signed in 1981 and entered into force in 1986. It is
an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on
the African continent.
http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/z1afchar.htm 13/08/2013 18:25.
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm#article12 2/08/2013 11:38.
2.4.5 The Right to Development
Some scholars also defend the “right to development” (Dorkenoo et al. 2006:402), arguing that
FGM must be understood in the “context of underdevelopment” (ibid.) because children and women
are more vulnerable in society. It is also important to notice that people with “no access to
education or resources and with no effective power base” (ibid.), or the rural and urban poor, stick
to traditions in order to survive in times of socioeconomic change. In communities where marriage
for a woman is her “only means of survival” (ibid.) and where some form of circumcision is a
requirement for marriage, it is difficult to convince her to renounce the practice for herself or for her
According to some scholars, the human rights framework can be understood as codifying the
“obligation of governments to eliminate the practice” (Shell-Duncan 2008:229) through legal
measures and sanctions; to provide women with “empowerment to improve their economic and
social status, as well as their ability to participate in a process of creating community consensus
around norms upholding the protection of the rights of women and children” (ibid.); and finally, to
“equip participants with the skills, knowledge, and resources to identify problems in their
community, one of which is often FGC, and to develop problem-solving strategies to combat these
problems” (ibid.).
It is important to take into consideration that the concept of human rights is “one of the few moral
visions ascribed to internationally” (Bunch 1990:486). Although its extent is not universally agreed
upon, it creates links of response among many countries. Therefore, the promotion of human rights
is a “widely accepted goal” (ibid.) which provides a framework to help female children and women.
2.5 Public health
Today’s international community has defined a “clear policy of general abolishment of FGM”
(Reyners 2004:242). However, this practice is still a tradition and is no longer exclusively executed
by traditional birth attendants in the thirty countries where female circumcision is a cultural
tradition. International migration from countries where this tradition is widespread is responsible for
the “presence of thousands of women settled temporarily or permanently in Western countries,
confronting social and welfare workers and health professionals with medical, ethical and
sociological issues” (Reyners 2004:242) of female genital mutilation.
In this case, there should be special training of obstetricians, their assistants and midwifes in order
to “reduce the mortality and morbidity that might be associated with FGM” (Rushwan 2000:104)
during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. The topic should be implemented in the curricula for
health professionals, including the ability to “provide counselling to women and the necessary
information they need about FGM” (ibid.).
This chapter is the basis for a better understanding of the issue of FGM; however, due to the lack of
space, it was not possible to provide its lecture on the beginning of this research.
Document 2: Emails to/from the Portuguese Government
2.1 Inês Oliveira – Legal Advisor of Ministry of Justice
enviado por:
Direcção-Geral da Política de Justiça [email protected]
"[email protected]" <[email protected]>
"[email protected]" <[email protected]>
17 de Dezembro de 2013 às 12:54
Tese sobre mutilação genital feminina
Exma. Senhora
Dra. Marlene Coelho,
Na sequência do e-mail remetido por V.Exa. no dia 15 de novembro, o qual muito agradecemos,
informamos que, de acordo com a Organização Mundial de Saúde, num relatório datado de 2000,
Portugal é um país de risco no que concerne à prática da mutilação genital feminina. O cálculo deste
risco baseia-se na assunção de que as comunidades migrantes residentes em Portugal provenientes de
países onde a mutilação genital feminina existe poderão continuar esta prática, quer no nosso país, quer
enviando menores ao país de origem. As evidências e observações em matéria de saúde, os estudos e o
trabalho comunitários provam que residem em Portugal mulheres que tendo sofrido mutilação nos seus
países de origem necessitam de cuidados de saúde físicos e psicológicos específicos.
Portugal tem vindo a assumir formalmente desde 2009 um compromisso político específico
relativamente à eliminação da mutilação genital feminina, por via da implementação de um Programa de
Ação para a Eliminação da Mutilação Genital Feminina, que conhece atualmente a sua 2ª versão.
Sublinhe-se que esta prática assume contornos muito específicos, sendo quase exclusivamente
executada no seio da família, sendo detetada apenas quando as vítimas necessitam de cuidados
hospitalares. Assim, a prevenção é fundamental, passando pela formação, sensibilização e intervenção
direta na comunidade.
A mutilação genital feminina é proibida em diversos tratados internacionais que, no entanto, necessitam
de ratificação para vincularem juridicamente. Eis alguns exemplos:
- Protocolo Facultativo ao Pacto Internacional sobre Direitos Civis e Políticos
- Protocolo Facultativo à Convenção sobre a Eliminação de todas as Formas de Discriminação contra a
- Convenção sobre os Direitos da Criança
- Convenção Contra a Tortura e Outras Penas ou Tratamentos Cruéis, Desumanos ou Degradantes
- Protocolo Facultativo à Carta Africana dos Direitos Humanos e dos Povos, sobre os direitos da
- Carta Africana dos Direitos e do Bem-Estar da Criança
Em Portugal, a mutilação genital feminina é crime, enquadrando-se nas ofensas à integridade física
grave, conforme o artigo 144.º do Código Penal, cuja pena aplicável é de prisão de dois a dez anos.
A criminalização das práticas de mutilação genital feminina visa tutelar o direito à integridade pessoal,
consagrado no artigo 25.º da Constituição da República Portuguesa, mostrando-se salvaguardados os
interesses em apreço no que concerne à repressão desta prática. No que toca à prevenção, é crucial o
Programa de Ação referido anteriormente, sensibilizando e intervindo diretamente nas comunidades.
Melhores cumprimentos,
Best wishes,
Inês Oliveira
Consultora/Legal Advisor
Ministério da Justiça/ Ministry of Justice
Direcção-Geral da Política de Justiça/Directorate General for Justice Policy
Avenida D. João II, n.º 1.08.01 E, Torre H, Pisos 2/3
1990-097 Lisboa - Portugal
T: +351 21 792 4000 F: +351 21 792 4090
enviado por:
Marlene Coelho [email protected]
[email protected]
15 de Novembro de 2013 às 15:42
Tese sobre Mutilacao Genital Feminina - Universidade de Roskilde (Dinamarca)
Exmos. Srs.,
Eu chamo-me Marlene Coelho, estou a finalizar a minha tese de mestrado em Mutilacao Genital
Feminina (MGF) entre os imigrantes guineenses a viver em Portugal na Universidade de Roskilde na
Dinamarca. Uma vez que vivo permanentemente aqui e não posso visitar a CIG pessoalmente, pedia a
vossa colaboracao através de e-mail
Será que poderia fazer o favor de responder as seguintes perguntas? Não precisa de responder a todas.
Se tiver algum tipo de material que possa enviar em anexo, agradeco imenso.
Tendo em consideracao o número de Guineenses a viver em Portugal e a marca de identidade
que a MGF representa nesta comunidade, acha que o ritual da MGF é praticado em território
nacional? Algo mudou desde que publicou a sua tese até hoje?
De que forma é que a MGF pode ser considerada uma marca de identidade das diaspora
Guineense em Portugal?
1. Considera a legislacao portuguesa actual eficiente na prevencao desta prática?
Qual é o papel das escolas, centros de saude, Polícia, meios de comunicacao social e associacoes de
imigrantes na prevencao desta pratica?
Agradeco imenso a vossa colaboracao e lamento a falta de acentos e cedilhas, mas os teclados nordicos
são diferentes.
2.2 Marina Resende – Officer at the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Equality
Gab Sec Est Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade [email protected]
"[email protected]" <[email protected]>
17 de Dezembro de 2013 às 13:57
Tese sobre Mutilacao Genital Feminina - Universidade de Roskilde (Dinamarca)
É importante principalmente devido às pessoas presentes na conversa.
Exma. Sr.ª Dr.ª Marlene Coelho
Por indicação da Senhora Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade, e pedindo
desculpa pelo atraso, junto envio, em anexo, as respostas às questões que nos colocou em mensagem de
16 de novembro passado.
Com os melhores cumprimentos,
Chefe do Gabinete
Gabinete da Secretária de Estado dos Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade
Palácio de S. Bento (A.R.)
1249-068 Lisboa, PORTUGAL
TEL + 351 21 392 05 00/06
FAX + 351 21 392 05 15
De: Portal do Governo - Ministro da Presidência e dos Assuntos Parlamentares
[mailto:[email protected]]
Enviada: sábado, 16 de Novembro de 2013 17:03
Para: Gab Sec Est Assuntos Parlamentares e da Igualdade
Assunto: Tese sobre Mutilacao Genital Feminina - Universidade de Roskilde (Dinamarca)
Email: [email protected]
Titulo: Tese sobre Mutilacao Genital Feminina - Universidade de Roskilde (Dinamarca)
Mensagem: Exmos. Srs., Eu chamo-me Marlene Coelho, estou a finalizar a minha tese de mestrado em
Mutilacao Genital Feminina (MGF) entre os imigrantes guineenses a viver em Portugal na Universidade
de Roskilde na Dinamarca. No Jornal de Notícias, no dia 10 de Outubro de 2011, no artigo chamado
“Mutilacao genital feminina existe em Portugal, mas desconhece-se dimensao”, a Sra Dra. Teresa
Morais afirma que a MGF existe em território nacional, embora se desconhecam as dimensoes. Será
que me podiam fazer o favor de dar a vossa opiniao sobre estas questoes? 1.Tendo em consideracao o
número de Guineenses a viver em Portugal e a marca de identidade que a MGF representa nesta
comunidade, acha que o ritual da MGF é praticado em território nacional? 2. De que forma é que a
MGF pode ser considerada uma marca de identidade das diaspora Guineense em Portugal? 3.Considera
a legislacao portuguesa actual eficiente na prevencao desta prática? 4.Qual é a relacao entre MGF,
profissionais de saude e imigrantes a viver em Portugal? 5. Qual é o papel das escolas, centros de saude,
Polícia, meios de comunicacao social e associacoes de imigrantes na prevencao desta pratica? Muito
obrigada pela vossa colaboracao.
Atentamente, Marlene
Document 3: E-mails to/from Carla Martingo – FGM Specialist
enviado por:
Carla Martingo [email protected]
[email protected]
19 de Abril de 2013 às 17:21
FW: Tese sobre a Mutilação Genital Feminina - Roskilde Universitetet (Dinamarca)
Prezada Marlene Coelho,
No seguimento do pedido feito ao ACIDI, estou a entrar em contacto consigo para lhe enviar alguma
informação sobre a MGF, toda ela passível de se fazer o download.
Há um trabalho que foi feito especificamente sobre as guineenses, realizada por mim no âmbito da
Dissertação de Mestrado em Relações Interculturais, que está publicada pelo Observatório da
Imigração do ACIDI: http://www.oi.acidi.gov.pt/docs/Colec_Teses/tese_22.pdf
Trata-se de um estudo exploratório que abre pistas de investigação sobre este assunto.
Por outro lado, um dos compromissos das instituições que integram o Grupo de Trabalho
Intersectorial para a Eliminação da MGF/C, coordenado pela Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade
de Género (www.cig.gov.pt), é a colocação nos seus sites de bolcos informativos, com material de IEC
sobre a MGF.
Nesse sentido, pode encontrar muita informação tanto no site do ACIDI
(http://www.acidi.gov.pt/documentos/visualizar-documento/4f280a11ca6d7/mutilacao-genitalfeminina) que também integra o Grupo de Trabalho, como de outros membros, nomeadamente a APF
Há ainda um trabalho mais antigo, da jornalista Sofia Branco, editado pelo Público: Sofia Branco,
(2006).Cicatrizes de Mulher, Público, Lisboa.
A não ser que consiga comprar pela internet, não se consegue retirar da net gratuitamente. Tudo o resto
pode retirar, gratuitamente.
Qualquer questão adicional que tenha, estamos ao inteiro dispor.
Com os melhores cumprimentos,
Carla Martingo
MISP – Projeto de Mediação Intercultural em Serviços Públicos
ACIDI - Alto Comissariado para a Imigração e Diálogo Intercultural
Rua dos Anjos, 66
1150-039 Lisboa
Tel: +(351) 218106100 Fax: +(351) 218106117
O ACIDI, Instituto Público na dependência directa da Presidência do Conselho de Ministros, tem como missão
colaborar na concepção, execução e avaliação das políticas públicas, transversais e sectoriais, relevantes para a
integração dos imigrantes e das minorias étnicas, bem como promover o diálogo entre as diversas culturas, etnias e
Mais informações em: www.acidi.gov.pt
De: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Enviada: terça-feira, 2 de Abril de 2013 12:33
Para: [email protected]
Assunto: Tese sobre a Mutilação Genital Feminina - Roskilde Universitetet (Dinamarca)
Nova mensagem enviada através de formulário de contacto:
Ex. Sr. Dr., Eu chamo-me Marlene Coelho e vou comecar agora a escrever a minha tese de mestrado
em Global Studies pela Roskilde Universitet na Dinamarca. Vou escrever sobre a Mutilacao Genital
Feminina com foco nos imigrates da Guiné-Bissau em Portugal. Uma vez que está a ser tao dificil
recolher material em relacao a este tema. Peço o favor de me enviar sugestões de literatura, outro
material e instituicoes a contactar. Agradeceria que as sugestoes fossem possiveis de encontrar online,
porque por questoes economicas eu nao tenho a possibilidade de vir para Portugal pesquisar. Agradeço
desde já a ajuda. Com os melhores cumprimentos, Marlene Coelho
Document 4: Interview (Interview Guide & CD)
Entrevista sobre FGM (senhora):
Entrevista feita em Valby, no dia 28 de Setembro de 2013, a uma cidadã Guineense e Muçulmana a
viver na Dinamarca, que viveu em Lisboa durante 6 anos. A entrevista foi feita num local escolhido
pela entrevistada, neste caso um café, por isso, a baixa qualidade de som. A testemunha preferiu
manter o anonimato por se tratar de um assunto intimo, que diz respeito a ela, à sua família e à
comunidade a que pertence. Uma vez que, na primeira parte da entrevista a senhora estava
demasiado tímida, as primeiras respostas foram assinaladas em papel. No entanto, mais tarde, a
entrevistada começou a ganhar confiança e deu autorização para gravar.
1. Como se chama?
A entrevistada prederiu ser designada de testemunha.
2. Qual é a sua nacionalidade?
- Guineense
3. Em que cidade/lugar nasceu na Guiné –Bissau?
- Bissau
4. Qual é a tribo a que pertence?
- Etnia biafada
5. Qual é a sua religião?
- Muçulmana
6. Onde viveu durante a sua infância?
- Guine-Bissau depois mudou-se para Portugal, onde viveu 6 anos e, mais tarde, mudou-se
para a Dinamarca onde está a viver há 3 anos
7. Foi excisada?
- Não foi
8. Quando aconteceu?/ Quantos anos tinha?
- CD
9. Em que circunstâncias?/Em que lugar?
- CD
10. Houve uma festa de preparacao?
- CD
11. Recebeu presentes?
- CD
12. O fanado é uma passagem de ensinamentos, que tipo de ensinamentos lhe foram passados?
Foram passados antes ou depois da circumcisao?
- CD
13. Quem fez a excisão?
- CD
14. Conhecia a fanateca?
- CD
15. Era a única crianca ou havia mais consigo?
- CD
16. Que instrumentos foram utilizados?
- CD
17. O que aconteceu depois da circuncisao?
- CD
18. Quantos meses esteve imobilizada?
- CD
19. Teve algum apoio médico?
- CD
20. Tinha consciencia de que ia passar por tudo isso? Tinha consciencia do que se tratava
quando foi sujeita a esse ritual?
- CD
21. O que representa este ritual na sua cultura?
- CD
22. O que representa para si?
- CD
23. Deseja que as suas filhas ou as meninas das proximas geracoes passem por isso?
24. Ficou com algum problema de saude por causa da excisão?
- CD
25. Onde vive hoje?
- Na Dinamarca
26. Há quanto tempo?
- Há três anos
27. Uma vez que já não mora na Guiné-Bissau, a sua opiniao mudou com a mudanca de país?
Ou já tinha alguma opinião formada antes de sair de lá?
- CD
28. Como é que acha que os portugueses ou os dinamarqueses reagem a esta tradição?
- CD
29. Já alguma vez viveu em Portugal?
- CD
30. Acha que existe a tradição do fanado em Portugal?
- CD
31. Onde?
- CD
32. Como?
- CD
33. Porquê?
- CD
34. Acha que o governo Portugues poderá implementar algum programa para evitar que as
meninas sejam sujeitas ao fanado em território nacional ou que sejam enviadas para a
Guine-Bissau para serem excisadas?
- CD
35. Tem algum comentário final?
- CD
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