Ending Female Genital Mutilation – A Difficult Topic But One That Must Be Addressed
The Guardian has been running a campaign to end female genital mutilation. Why do we as midwives and as women need to know about this and to join the movement to end it, wherever it occurs?
Please, please sign the petition on the website, created by Fahma Mohamed, a young woman from Bristol, United Kingdom.
According to a headline in one Guardian story, “the practice is usually done by a midwife using a razor blade.” Most of these are untrained village midwives in third-world countries, but in Egypt and Indonesia, FGM occurs in hospitals and clinics – legitimizing it as a medical procedure.
By doing nothing, we are all complicit in allowing this horrific practice to continue. Over 130 million women living today have been mutilated, most of them as children. 6000 more are mutilated every day, mostly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia but also in diaspora countries such as the US, France, and the UK. The practice is outlawed in the U.K.; however, no one has ever been prosecuted, and 24,000 young girls there are at risk of being cut. France, with many immigrants from francophone African countries, has been more vigorous at prosecution, 100 people have gone on trial for female genital mutilation and there have been 29 convictions there. In the US, where a 1996 federal law bans FGM, according to an Equality Now factsheet:
- In 1997, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that over 168,000 girls and women living in the U.S. have either been, or are at risk of being, subjected to FGM.
- In 2000, the African Women’s Health Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital estimated that 227,887 women and girls had been at risk of being subjected to FGM in the U.S. that year.
Read more about FGM and watch videos (warning: heart wrenching to watch) on The Guardian website – they have been adding new features every day to this series.