n African Human Rights Law Journal - The abolition of female circumcision in Eritrea : inadequacies of new legislation




Female circumcision is one of the predominant and most prevalent forms of violence against women in Eritrea. In an effort to tackle the formidable challenges of such a harmful traditional practice, a growing international awareness has emerged in the last few decades, resulting in the adoption of international conventions and declarations at the international level, and policies and legislation at the national level. Eritrea has recently adopted legislation banning female circumcision, joining the ranks of a few African countries which have adopted similar mechanisms to eradicate female circumcision as a form of violence against women. This article critically discusses the shortcomings of the new legislation and the overall strategy of the Eritrean government in the eradication of female circumcision. It is submitted that, in countries such as Eritrea where female circumcision is culturally deeply rooted, outright criminalisation without effective accompanying mechanisms is not always advisable. Female circumcision can only be eradicated by a multidimensional approach. Such an approach must encompass, among other things, meaningful and comprehensive education and campaign programmes, the involvement of independent democratic institutions and processes, as well as community and civil society engagement, all of which are vitally important in the eradication of female circumcision.


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