Intended for healthcare professionals


Female genital mutilation: whose problem, whose solution?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 13 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:106

French law against female genital mutilation

Maxime Gignon, Cécile Manaouil, Sarah Traullé, Olivier Jardé

Forensic and legal medicine unit, Teaching Hospital, Place Victor
Pauchet 80054 Amiens cedex 1 – France.

Corresponding Author: Dr Cécile Manaouil

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In France, Henrion described what is female genital mutilation and
complications 1. In order to fight against violence, the French law of
April 4, 2006 modifies article 226-14 of the penal code concerning
exemptions in professional secrecy. So, professional secrecy does not apply
to the one that informs the judicial, medical or administrative
authorities of hardships or ill-treatment, including when it is about
effects or sexual mutilations, which come to his attention and that were
imposed on a minor or one person who is not able to protect himself
because of his age or his physical or psychic incapacity. Also, the
physician who learns in the exercise of his profession, about ill-treatment or hardships, overestimating physical, sexual or psychic
violence, can, with agreement of the victim, inform the Public prosecutor
of it. If the victim is minor (in France, under 18 years old), her
agreement is not necessary. Description to proper authorities made in
these conditions cannot be the object of any disciplinary sanction in the

In France, since 1979, there were more than twenty lawsuits against
parents from which the children died on the French territory following
excisions, but also against women doing excision. The Court of Cassation
established in 1983 that ablation of the clitoris was indeed a
mutilation in the sense of the French penal code. The sentences provided
for the author of a mutilation are defined by the penal code: 10 years in
prison and a 150 000 euro fine (article 222-9 penal code) and 20 years of
imprisonment with labour if the mutilation is committed on a minor of less
than fifteen years by a lawful, natural or adoptive ascendant or by any
other person having authority on the minor (article 222.10 pénal code).

1 Female genital mutilations, forced marriages, and early
pregnancies. Henrion R. Bull Acad Natl Med. 2003;187(6):1051-66.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 July 2006
MCUPH forensic medicine and health law
Maxime Gignon, Sarah Traullé, Olivier Jardé