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Keywords:

  • female genital cutting;
  • female genital mutilation;
  • circumcision;
  • human rights;
  • violence against women

ABSTRACT  The international campaign to eliminate female genital cutting (FGC) has, since the early 1990s, actively attempted to divorce itself from a health framework, adopting instead a human rights framework to justify intervention. Several key questions emerge regarding the prominent placement of FGC in the international human rights movement: What are the ramifications of framing FGC as a human rights violation? What actions are mandated by a human rights approach? What perils and pitfalls potentially arise from the adoption of a rights-based framework, and how might they be avoided? In exploring these questions it becomes clear that, although a human rights approach is promising, careful deliberation is required to develop action strategies that offer both protection and respect for the culture and autonomy of those women and families concerned.