Over the past few decades, female circumcision has mainly been considered an African problem. However, recent studies confirm that non-African females have also undergone this harmful practice. The prevalence of female circumcision outside Africa broadens our understanding of the scope and the reasons behind this practice. This broader concept challenges us to put the legal approach to female circumcision under critical scrutiny. Especially, since many non-African girls are circumcised on religious grounds and in a less intensive manner than, or in the same way as boys. This raises the question whether incision and piercing that modify female genitalia less significantly than male circumcision, could be accepted as exemptions in law, like male circumcision and cosmetic surgery. To address the criticism of "double standards" in this context, this essay develops a normative framework of liberal rights and analyses how circumcisions affect the security, vulnerability and status of people. This liberal perspective rejects convincingly exemptions for female circumcision and accepts male circumcision conditionally and temporarily. This essay develops two pragmatic arguments that explain the "double standards" regime. These arguments reject exemptions for female circumcision and accept male circumcision as an exemption in law.

Additional Metadata
Keywords female circumcision, female genital mutilation, male circumcision, law and religion, Dawoodi Bohra, FGM, liberal political philosophy, abstraction from the religious dimension, religious freedom, liberal rights
JEL Religion (jel Z12), Criminal Law (jel K14)
ISBN 978-1-928314-42-4
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.18820/9781928314431/25, hdl.handle.net/1765/113137
Wahedi, S. (2018). Female circumcision as an African problem: Double standards or harsh reality?. In Religion, Law and Security in Africa. doi:10.18820/9781928314431/25