applying on issues which may have long

applying to medical professionals and government employees. Several European countries have passed national legislation banning medical personnel from involvement in FGM (Tynan, 1997). Any move to outlaw the practice itself will also make medical professionals position clear in regard to the law and FGM.
The second issue in the health field is how to provide proper care and support for the physical and psychological suffering of the women and girls who have experienced FGM. There is a need for more research into the damage that FGM causes. Strategies and procedures with health care are need, including training and information for professionals. There is a responsibility for all professional bodies to produce guidelines upon the practice and how their members can respond professionally.
FGM is now firmly located in the international human rights field, alongside other violence against women, though as yet there is no specific instrument within international human rights law which deals with FGM (Merry, 2001). In the 1980s both the UK and Sweden were the first countries to introduce national legislation making the practice of FGM illegal (Dorkenoo and Elworthy, 1992:11). France, rather than having specific legislation prosecutes those who practice or conspire to practice FGM on children under the age of 15 through its standard penal codes (ibid, Dorkenoo and Elworthy, 1992:11).
The law, both nationally and internationally, recognises that children are not sufficiently independent to decide for or protect themselves on issues which may have long term impact. Actions taken involving children should be in; according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 3, Paragraph 1) (CRC, 1989:2), and much national legislation. FGM is fully recognised as contrary to that best interest standard and as such FGM is a child rights violation. Furthermore, the mandate of the Convention on the Rights of the Child affirms, (Article 24, Paragraph 3) (CRC, 1989:7). There are several problems with the ‘best interests of the child’ approach. FGM is seen as in the best interests of the child by parents and family members within a community places social, cultural and economic importance on FGM However they would be categorised as inadequate or violent parents under the convention, as interpreted by the international community (Boulware-Miller, 1985). Communities practicing FGM view it as a normal, even essential, part of a child’s development. Here we see that in seeking to end FGM, it is essential to address the issue that it is viewed as a social good, not just focus on the physical or psychological harm it does.
Internationally, FGM is seen as a fundamental violation of the human rights of children and of girls and women. FGM violates the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and torture and the right to health, security, and physical integrity, and the right to life in the case of fatal complications. Children upon whom this is practiced do not give informed consent, denying these girls any option to be involved in decisions about their bodies. Due to the intense social pressure to perform FGM, there is little incentive and much to lose in not supporting the practice. So, in reality there is likely to be many in the community who would support an end to FGM if the social norms changed.
International instruments of human rights now directly name FGM as violence against women placing a responsibility on states to ban it. A base of support for women is found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. Article 5 states that,


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