G. Female genital mutilation (resolution WHA61.16)

The Assembly will consider the Progress Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at Doc A64/26.  This is a follow up of WHA61.16

WHA Watch Comment: Stop the cutting now!  

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, 1997). Despite previous efforts approximately 3 million girls per year are at risk of this harmful practice.

Of concern is the medicalization of this practice (where it is undertaken by registered practitioners in licensed facilities). 

There has been inadequate attention to changing the social representation of FGM; changes in the way the society perceives FGM particularly in areas with a high prevalence rate.

There is also a need for psychosocial rehabilitation for girls/ women that have gone through his act.

The adoption of new laws and declarations does not always immediately transform local cultures. Egypt which still has one of the highest incidence rates has had a law against FGM since 2008. It is still a framework which demands from institutions, communities and individuals the transformation of ideas and the initiation of new practices. Hence, while it is crucial for Member States to adopt appropriate laws as one of the tools in fighting FGM there is also a need for more media coverage on the issue particularly in conjunction with key people such as traditional senior people in communities since FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural practice. The media should also make more emphasis on the harmful effects of FGM, to include for example transmission of HIV and hepatitis among others.  It is also very important to engage health professionals to support the abandonment of FGM and reiterate that they should never perform it. It not only breeches both medical professionalism but also ethical responsibilities.

It would also be useful to provide National protocols, manuals and guidelines to guide healthcare workers and also to adopt the global strategy against the medicalization of FGM.

1) Inter African Community on cultural practices
2) Global Alliance against FGM