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Female circumcision becomes punishable

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, January 25
From now on, female genital mutilation (FGM) is punishable in Georgia. A draft amendment against women and domestic violence, prepared by the Justice Ministry, was approved by the government at a session on January 24.

According to the amendments, female circumcision or the coercion of a woman to undergo FGM, under religious, ethnic, national or other traditions, has become punishable under the criminal law of Georgia.

The same offence towards pregnant, underage or disabled women will be considered as aggravating circumstances.

The Justice Ministry had initiated a law amendment that made circumcision a criminal offence in November 2016.

The Justice Minister, Thea Tsulukiani, said that the amendments became necessary after several incidents of FGM were revealed in three villages of eastern Kakheti region, inhabited by ethnic Avars and Kists.

Initially, the information about the existence of FGM in some Kakheti villages was released by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) on November 10, 2016.

The Avars are a native ethnic group in the Caucasus that were historically located in the mountainous part of the Russian Republic of Dagestan. As a result of trade relations with the neighboring Georgian district of Kvareli, in the 18th century some Avars settled there and around 3,000 of their descendants still live in three Kakhetian villages today.

The IWPR reported that when boys are circumcised, they are taken to the district hospital where a surgeon operates on them. However, for girls, the procedure is usually done at home.

The article also said that circumcision is dangerous and represents a gross violation of human rights.

After the article was published, Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, also studied the case.

Representatives of the Ombudsman arrived at the mentioned villages and found out that such a practice really took place among the Avars.

“The locals confirmed to our representatives that such practices are carried out there and it is called ‘baptism’. According to them, this procedure implies cutting or partly removing the clitoris at home,” the statement of the Public Defender reported, adding that such practices are wide-spread in one Kakhetian village, while in the other two only some cases have been confirmed.

The Public Defender called on the Georgian government to take all appropriate measures for the elimination and prevention of this bad practice.

After the approval by the Cabinet, article 1332 was added to the Criminal Code, which implies criminalization for female genital mutilation.