Interpreting Signs of Female Genital Mutilation Within a Risky Legal Framework

Lien, I. L., & Schultz, J. H. (2014). Interpreting Signs of Female Genital Mutilation Within a Risky Legal Framework. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 28(2), 194-211. doi:10.1093/lawfam/ebu002

The Norwegian law against female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) was strengthened in 2004 through the addition of a duty to avert that requires extra vigilance from employees in the welfare system, including social workers, nurses and teachers, to protect girls from being subjected to FGM/C.

The law against discrimination forbids discrimination based on ethnic background. These two laws may come into conflict and spill over into communicative situations in which the interpretation of the signs of potential future crimes takes place. This article particularly explores the challenges and risks for nurses, teachers and welfare officers in interpreting the early signs of an imminent FGM/C procedure in their attempts to communicate during efforts to avert female genital mutilation. The data is based on the documentation of one particular case, following it through the welfare and legal systems and including a secondary data source of interviews of official employees as well individuals of African descent who live in Norway.

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