This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number 0313503) and by the UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme on Research, Development, and Research Training in Human Reproduction. Research affiliation was provided by Dr. C. Niang through Université Cheikh Anta Diop, and by Dr. A. B. Senghore through Gambia College, Brikama Campus. Ethics approval for this study was obtained from The Gambia College in Brikama, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, University of Washington, and the World Health Organization in Geneva. Membership of our advisory committee included representatives from The Women's Bureau, The Gambian Bureau of Statistics, Worldview The Gambia, Gambia College-Brikama Campus, TANGO (an association of nongovernmental organizations), UNDP, UNICEF, and The Gambia WHO. In Senegal, we received advice and input from numerous representatives from The Population Council, Tostan, and the Senegal WHO office. Cori Mar, from the University of Washington Center for the Study of Demography and Ecology, provided valuable statistical advice. Statistical support and grant administration through the Center for the Study of Demography and Ecology was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Human Development award number 5R24HD042828. We thank Molly Melching and staff at Tostan for providing us with helpful information about Tostan activity sites. We would like to acknowledge the important contributions of our hardworking and dedicated field team in Senegal and The Gambia: Alhagy Bah, Sally Bojang, Modou Dem, Ebrima Jallow, Serreh Jebang, and Naisatou Konteh. Furthermore, we wish to thank our research assistants from the University of Washington, Ratna Maya Magarati and Anthony Tessandori, for their tremendous help in data management and preliminary data analysis. We are indebted to Dr. Fuambai Ahmadu for her advice and logistical support in initiating data collection. And finally, we extend thanks to Dr. Saida Hodžić, Dr. Gerry Mackie, and Hon. Joel Ngugi for valuable comments on early drafts of this article.
Legislating Change? Responses to Criminalizing Female Genital Cutting in Senegal
Article first published online: 21 OCT 2013
© 2013 Law and Society Association
Law & Society Review
Volume 47, Issue 4, pages 803–835, December 2013
How to Cite
Shell-Duncan, B., Wander, K., Hernlund, Y. and Moreau, A. (2013), Legislating Change? Responses to Criminalizing Female Genital Cutting in Senegal. Law & Society Review, 47: 803–835. doi: 10.1111/lasr.12044
- Issue published online: 21 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 21 OCT 2013
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: 0313503
- UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme on Research, Development, and Research Training in Human Reproduction
Although the international community has recently promoted legislation as an important reform strategy for ending female genital cutting (FGC), there exist divergent views on its potential effects. Supporters argue that legal prohibition of FGC has a general deterrent effect, while others argue legislation can be perceived as coercive, and derail local efforts to end the practice. This study examines the range of responses observed in rural Senegal, where a 1999 anti-FGC law was imposed on communities in which the practice was being actively contested and targeted for elimination. Drawing on data from a mixed-methods study, we analyze responses in relation to two leading theories on social regulation, the law and economics and law and society paradigms, which make divergent predictions on the interplay between social norms and legal norms. Among supporters of FGC, legal norms ran counter to social norms, and did little to deter the practice, and in some instances incited reactance or drove the practice underground. Conversely, where FGC was being contested, legislation served to strengthen the stance of those contemplating or favoring abandonment. We conclude that legislation can complement other reform strategies by creating an “enabling environment” that supports those who have or wish to abandon FGC.