There has been a raging debate among the Anti FGM crusaders on which is the best approach in combating Female Genital Mutilation/ Female circumcision. On one side there those who believe that applying the full force of law is the best approach, while on the other hand it’s those who believe that community sensitization and dialogue with the aim of changing the perception of community members is the best approach.
In my view a combination of the two approaches works best. This means NGOs taking the law approach should network with those taking the sensitization/community dialogue approach so as to make the fight against FGM/FC effective and efficient in the long run. If any one of them decides to work independently it’s bound to fail in one way or another and hence wastage of resources in the long run.
It is said that laws cannot drive social justice but only guard conditions that facilitate social justice. These conditions must be in place and then obtain legal fortification through legislation. These conditions include taking actions that will lead to the creation of positive perceptions about commitment to social justice since laws alone cannot change what is in people’s mind. This is one of the core duties of NGOs and social workers and it clearly justifies the need for sensitization and community dialogue.
Once community members are sensitized and informed of the negative effects of FGM/FC and laws there to, then the full force of law can be applied to any community member who acts in the contrary. It is said Ignorance is no defense in a court of law hence community members will have no excuse when prosecuted.
To conclude NGOs doing the sensitization part should first do their work and then link up with the ones advocating for law so that any member of the society acting contrary to the teachings can be brought to book. This will be possible through building up networks and referral systems that work among the NGOs.