Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is regarded as a form of abuse and a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women to life and their right to health. This is a crime in the UK even if the person is taken overseas for the mutilation. It is also sometimes known as female circumcision or ‘sunna’.

The procedure is traditionally carried out by an older woman with no medical training. The procedure can have significant long and short term health implications (including immediate fatal haemorrhaging, severe pain and shock, urine retention, infections, sexual dysfunction and complications in pregnancy and child birth). In addition to these health consequences, there are considerable psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences of FGM.

The number of women and girls in Devon who are victims of, or at risk of, female genital mutilation is unknown. The health and social care information centre has introduced reporting for FGM from acute hospital providers from September 2014. The first monthly report identified 1,746 women and girls in England who had been victims of FGM and had used acute hospital services during that month (for any medical condition not limited conditions relating to FGM).

A UNICEF report highlights prevalence rates by country (http://www.unicef.org/cbsc/files/UNICEF_FGM_report_July_2013_Hi_res.pdf), revealing that the practice is concentrated in the 30 countries in Western and Eastern Africa and parts of the Middle East. The highest rates by country are seem in Somalia (98%), Guinea (96%), and Egypt (91%)