Following Spain’s first conviction of a woman for the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), Penades discusses alternatives to imprisonment to reduce the rate of FGC in the country.
Addressing FGC is often difficult due to the complex nature of the practice. FGC can be viewed as a social norm. The practice is led by women in communities, and families carry out the practice out of love for their daughters, believing that the practice will benefit them. The practice is often seen as a requirement for marriage, and belived to make women “clean.”
An FGC abandonment model run by the NGO Tostan has been met with success in Senegal, and the organization hopes to end FGC in that country by 2015. Over 6.000 communities have participated in declarations where they promised to abandon the practice. The secret is that mothers know that following the abandonment their daughters will be able to marry among the abandoning groups.
In Spain, the government should promote more family education and public awareness raising to promote the end of the practice. The issue is complex and there is no quick solution, but it is clear that imprisonment is not the answer.