Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 5: Clinical Issues

Female genital mutilation, especially in its more extensive forms, is permanently scarring both physically and mentally. Its impacts are lifelong and often severe.

Sometimes FGM is fatal. Its victims do not always become ‘survivors’ in any sense of the word.

Some girls or women who undergo mutilation die in the immediate and short-term aftermath of the abuse, and later on more will die as a result of difficulties in childbirth or because of long-term conditions including fistula. Babies born to women with FGM are also at risk and sometimes die because of the obstetric complications it can cause.

The United Nations, the World Health Organization and many other international and professional bodies1 are unanimous in asserting there is no positive benefit to FGM. They insist unequivocally that it must never be promoted or conducted as a medical procedure – which happens for instance in Kenya, Indonesia, Egypt and Malaysia, and which routinely puts the lives and well-being of those who undergo it at risk.

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 7: Prevention: Formal Approaches

The available instruments of enforcement in eradicating female genital mutilation are both formal and informal. Whilst the prevention of FGM is self-evidently a matter for the legal authorities, this is by no means the only way in which upholding the law is – or should be – enforced.

Despite occasional attempts by some proponents of specific approaches to make the issue ‘either/or’, the effectiveness of any one prevention strategy is likely in the end to be enhanced (or just occasionally to be hampered) by the others.

The tools of enforcement include community engagement, education via schools, clinics and other public facilities, working with the transport and migration authorities, media programmes, briefing of professionals and ultimately the legal process itself.

Even all these strategies cannot, however, ensure prevention, especially when the fundamental meanings of FGM are still perceived differently by different elements of the practising communities, the preventative public and and voluntary services, and the general public.

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