Male and female genital cutting: Between the best interest of the child and genital mutilation

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In the UK, male genital cutting is in principle legal and may even be ordered by a court, whereas female genital cutting is a criminal offence. The coherence of this approach was recently questioned by Munby P in Re B and G (children) (No 2); the present article continues this inquiry and demonstrates that the justifications that the courts have provided for the differential treatment of male and female cutting-relating to the harm involved in the respective practices, possible medical benefits of male cutting, the absence of a religious motivation with regard to female cutting, and patriarchal power structures enabling female but not male cutting-are insufficient. It proposes a different foundation for the categorical rejection of female genital cutting and argues that such practices are wrong as a matter of principle. This provides a convincing basis for the rejection of all forms of female genital cutting, including comparatively mild ones such as ritual nicks, and furthermore leads to the conclusion that male cutting, too, must be regarded as categorically impermissible.




Möller, K. (2020). Male and female genital cutting: Between the best interest of the child and genital mutilation. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. Oxford University Press.

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