Editorial: Challenges in the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

News article 1 Nov 2018

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is defined as ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs, whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons’. It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of FGM/C. Of these, 44 million are under 15 years old.

At the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH), we aim to improve the health of mothers and babies in low and middle-income countries. FGM/C interferes with normal healthy female genital tissue and sexuality and is a violation of every girl’s and women’s right to the highest attainable standard of health.

Professor Nynke van den Broek, Head of CMNH, and Dr Mary McCauley, Academic Clinical Lecturer at CMNH, have written an editorial in the journal International Health to set out the challenges of eradicating FGM/C and why it is so important to do so for all aspects of women’s health.

In the editorial, Challenges in the eradication of female genital mutilation/cutting, Professor Nynke van den Broek and Dr Mary McCauley, explain:
“Despite over 40 years of discussion and debate regarding Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), this topic remains controversial and emotive, and the practice continues.

The eradication of FGM/C can only be achieved through a strong and coordinated approach implemented at local, regional, national and international levels. Supportive education and targeted training are recommended to enable all stakeholders to sensitively and respectfully address this complex and long-standing practice. Health care providers have a duty of care and are in many ways uniquely positioned to support the eradication of FGM/C. It is crucial that all healthcare providers are aware of and meet the requirements of the ethical and legal frameworks that are currently in place to support the eradication of FGM/C. This includes continued promotion of community understanding and objection to FGM/C as a practice that is contrary to human rights, including the right to physical as well as reproductive and sexual health for women.”