Physicians call for Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation

(05.02.2010) A call to eliminate female genital mutilation as a gross form of violence against women has come from the World Medical Association (WMA) and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

To mark the international day of Zero Tolerance to FGM (February 6), the two organisations, representing millions of physicians and 124 obstetrical and gynecological associations worldwide, strongly condemn the medicalisation of female genital mutilation.

Professor Gamal I. Serour, President of FIGO, said: ‘Death, severe pain, haemorrhage, tetanus, sepsis, recurrent urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, increased complications of subsequent pregnancy and childbirth as well as adverse psychological and sexual effects are just a few examples of its extreme consequences. The practice of FGM violates human rights principles.’

He said that according to a recent World Health Organisation report on women and health there had been a small decrease in the extent of FGM in recent years, a decline in the average age at which FGM was performed, and a marked increase in the proportion of girls who underwent FGM before the age of five years. The report also said there was a growing tendency for FGM to be carried out by health professionals.

Dr. Dana Hanson, President of the WMA, said: ‘The medicalisation of FGM is a matter of deep concern for us. It blatantly infringes the code of medical ethics. Physicians should need no reminding about the acute dangers of FGM for women and girls to discourage them from performing or promoting such practices. They are a violation of women’s human rights that physicians and other health professionals should never practice under any circumstances. We would like to see physicians and medical associations taking a more robust stand against these harmful and degrading treatments.’

Professor Serour added: ‘Health professionals can play a unique role in working towards the elimination of FGM to ensure that girls and women enjoy the full extent of human rights and freedoms, and are treated with dignity and understanding.’