Gov’t takes step to declare circumcision a criminal offence

Minister of Justice announced a new article against female genital mutilation. Photo by Aida Mirmaksumova., 24 Nov 2016 - 11:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's Ministry of Justice has begun proceedings to make circumcision, same as female genital mutilation (FGM) illegal in Georgia.

Acting Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani said the Justice Ministry had initiated a law amendment that would make circumcision a criminal offence. 

Her comment yesterday followed local media reports that two-three  of villages in eastern Kakheti region, inhabited by Muslim Kist people, still addressed FGM. 

Several locals told media that circumcision remained part of their tradition that played a role in the 'coming of age' of a girl and was necessary before marriage.

Throughout the world FGM is widely frowned upon, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying FGM is the deliberate mutilation of female genitalia, with FGM being described as any procedure that injured the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The Muslim Kist population still believed FGM was appropriate and meant girls would be a virgin for their wedding night and remain faithful to her husband, as the mutilation prevents women from achieving sexual pleasure. 

The process was generally carried out by people who do not have relevant medical knowledge and experience, with no anesthesia and sometimes could be fatal.

Over the last four years the Government of Georgia has taken a range of steps ... to ensure high level protection of children’s rights,” Tsulukiani said. 
The process must continue and conclude with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention I had the honour of signing two years ago. I have big hopes that the new Parliament of Georgia will ratify the Convention,” she added. 

A couple of days ago the Ministry of Justice introduced an Article in the Istanbul Convention that envisaged circumcision would become illegal and punishable, said Tsulukiani, adding "unfortunately” there was no earlier information about the existence of the archaic tradition in the "two or three” villages in east Georgia where the practice still occurred. 

Representatives of the Muslim religion said their holy scriptures "said nothing" about circumcision  and said it was a custom of some ethnic groups that mainly resided in Africa, consequently Islam generally doesn't support FGM.  

Georgia’s civil sector has already addressed the issue and said circumcision was one of the "highest level violation of human rights.” 

Circumcision is generally carried out on young children aged 2-4 years of age but it can also be carrier out on young adults through the initiative of family members.