Prohibition of Medicalization
last updated January 2015
In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at


  • Legislation should prohibit the medicalization of FGM in any form. 
  • Legislation should explicitly state that there is no medical benefit to the practice of FGM and prohibit medical professionals from conducting any form of FGM. 
  • Legislation should provide that if the procedure is performed by a person with a medical license or certificate, the term of imprisonment shall be increased and the practitioner shall be prohibited from practicing his or her profession for a period of time. 
  • Legislation should explicitly prohibit the medical sector from re-infibulation or “re-closing” a woman after child birth to her pre-delivery infibulated state. 
  • Legislation should require that health-care providers be trained on the harmful consequences of FGM and that performing FGM will result in criminal and civil liability. Guidelines and education should be included in health-care provider’s training curriculum. 
  • Ministry of Health and professional regulatory bodies should issue policy statements against the medicalization of any form of FGM, including re-infibulation.
  • Professional organizations should adopt and disseminate clear standards condemning and prohibiting the practice of any type of FGM. Such standards should be accompanied with strict sanctions for violations.  

See: Global strategy to stop health-care providers from performing genital mutilation (WHO, 2010); available in English.


Illustrative Examples:

The European Parliament resolution of 24 March 2009 on combating female genital mutilation in the EU (2008/2071(INI)), Para 25

Urges firm rejection of pricking of the clitoris and medicalisation in any form, which are being proposed as a halfway house between circumcision and respect for traditions serving to define identity and which would merely lead to the practice of FGM being justified and accepted on EU territory; reiterates the absolute and strong condemnation of FGM, as there is no reason—social, economic, ethnic, health-related or other—that could justify it.

In addition, both Burkina Faso and Senegal increase penalties for medical professionals who practice FGM. 

  • Burkina Faso Penal Code, Art. 381:
    The maximum punishment shall be meted out if the guilty party is a member of the medical or paramedical profession. Moreover, he or she may be disbarred from practice by the courts for up to five years.