A number of overseas countries, including countries
which have migrant populations, have already confronted this issue have
done so in a variety of ways. The position of some overseas countries
is therefore briefly examined below.
1993 Bill C-126 to amend the Criminal Code and Young Offenders
Act received Royal Assent on 23 June 1993. Clause 3 of the Bill
creates section 273.3 of the Criminal Code which is designed to
extend domestic protection to children who are normally resident
in Canada, from their removal from Canada with the intention of
committing assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault or
any sexual offense. While having general application, the offense
was initially developed in response to a concern that Canadian
domestic law did not provide sufficient protection against the
practice of female genital mutilation.
- The offense applies to anyone engaging in the prohibited
conduct in Canada. Additionally, its protection extends to
all children ordinarily resident in Canada, whether citizens
or landed migrants.
- The offense has general application, but was initially
developed in response to a concern that Canadian domestic
law did not provide sufficient protection against the practice
of female genital mutilation. Action was seen as necessary
in conformity with Article 24(3) of the Convention of the
Rights of the Child, which provides: "State parties shall
take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to
abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health
- Section 273.3 is preventive in nature as it allows for
intervention before harm is done to the child. However, it
is acknowledged that it will not prevent abuse in all cases
and this remains an issue of concern. The Canadian view is
that further steps require an international convention to
establish principles on which States will protect children
subject to abuse beyond their borders.
Work is currently under way with the Canadian Medical Association
and the relevant migrant associations to provide education on
the health and legal aspects of the practice of female genital
mutilation. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
has declared that any doctor performing female genital mutilation
could be guilty of professional misconduct.
||The Council of Europe has not specifically addressed the question
of female genital mutilation. It is understood the position is
several countries is similar to France. Sweden was one of the
first countries to specifically condemn female genital mutilation.
It banned health professionals from performing the operation in
|| In France female genital mutilation is not specifically
penalized by French law but is actionable as a mutilation under
Article 312 of the Penal Code which punishes violence against
children. Under this Article, a penalty of 10-20 years imprisonment
is imposed. Where the mutilation is carried out by a parent
or guardian, a life sentence is imposed. Generally professional
persons who perform female genital mutilation, and are solicited
by the parents, are treated more harshly than the parents of
the child, who can often rely on such matters as respect for
customary law and social pressures.
The Medical Ethics Code 1979 forbids the practice of female
genital mutilation except where medically required. The French
Medical Board is not aware of any breaches of the Code. Furthermore,
where a doctor observes that a child under the age of 15 years
has been the victim of maltreatment or neglect, the doctor is
required to alert the authorities.
Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 (UK) prohibits
female genital mutilation in the UK. The Act is supplemented by
the Children Act 1989 which provides for the investigation of
suspected violations of the female genital mutilation prohibition
and enables the removal of the child from her home where this
is the only way her protection can be guaranteed. The Children
Act also empowers the courts to prohibit parents from removing
their children from the country to have the operation done elsewhere.