Legal Framework in Germany

Since June 2013 female genital mutilation is a statutory offense in Germany. With a change in § 226 (heavy bodily injury) the penalty rose from six months to at least one year imprisonment with a maximum penalty of fifteen years. In cases where the physical and psychological consequences are substantially less than the average a sentence of six months to five years imprisonment is possible.

In addition, female genital mutilation can be prosecuted under provisions concerning protection of minors (§ 225 of the Federal Penal Code). Since 1 October 2009, the ten-year statute of limitations for mistreatment of dependents was altered. The new statutory offence in 2013 additionally extended the statute of limitations from former 10 to now 20 years. Beginning at the age of eighteen, victims can now bring charges until they are 38 years old.

Present criminal law in Germany doesn‘t generally permit prosecuting cases of FGM undertaken outside the country. The passive personality principle according to Article 7 paragraph 1 of the Federal Penal Code can, according to current law, be applied if a girl mutilated abroad is a German citizen and undergoes FGM in a country which has a law against it.

Parents who fail to prevent an act of genital mutilation undertaken abroad can be charged with violating their duty to protect a minor child in their care and be charged according to article 171 of the Federal Penal Code. They can be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment of up to three years.

The girl’s consent to be genitally mutilated is not a mitigating circumstance according to article 228 of the Federal Penal Code, nor is consent of the parents. 

International conventions

Female genital mutilation also infringes international conventions protecting human rights.

Among these are:

  • The General Declaration in Human Rights
  • The Convention of the United Nations on the Rights of the Child
  • The Convention of the United Nations on Eliminating all Forms of Discrimination against Women
  • The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam
  • The African Charta of Human Rights and the Rights of Peoples