While international and regional human rights instruments have recognized female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) as one of the most prevalent forms of violence against women and girls, in many African states FGM/C is a deeply entrenched cultural practice. There is a consensus against FGM, as evidenced by its criminalization in several African countries. The mere fact that the practice continues despite legislative measures to protect women and girls against FGM raises the question of whether change can be legislated. The present article summarizes the trends and effectiveness of FGM criminalization in Africa, including prohibition of medicalization of FGM. Against the backdrop of emerging debate on medicalization of FGM as a harm reduction strategy, we also examine its complex legal and ethical implications. The article argues that while criminalization may not be the best means of stopping FGM, it creates an enabling environment to facilitate the overall strategy of African governments in eradication of the practice.