2,000 female genital mutilation victims seek help at London hospitals in just three years but true figure is 'far more than figures show'

Setembro 09 2013, : International NEWS
Clitoraid has been offering to train UK surgeons in Clitoroplasty since the UK doctors are only performing rudimentary surgery on FGM victims at the moment which are not aimed at restoring sexual pleasure.


- 300 victims required surgery to repair damage caused by brutal ritual
- A dozen children needed medical help, including one with 'open wound'
- Experts say figures do not give the full picture of growing number of cases
- DPP says it is 'only matter of time' before prosecution is brought in UK

More than 2,100 victims of female genital mutilation have been treated in London hospitals since 2010, it emerged today.

Almost 300 women needed surgery to help them recover from the brutal ritual, new figures have revealed.

Among those treated in the capital's hospitals included 12 children, including one girl who had been left with an 'open wound' following the criminal act.

Despite being illegal in the UK, female genital mutilation is on the rise with an estimated 66,000 women dealing with the after-effects and more than 20,000 young girls thought to be at risk.

The procedure is associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.

Many girls living in Britain are taken to these countries for be 'cut', and some will be as young as five.

But it is becoming more prevalent in the UK and experts say today's figures are 'truly shocking' but there are 'far more victims' than the data shows.

In the majority of cases the clitoris is removed because it gives sexual pleasure.
A total of 2,115 FGM patients were seen between 2010 and now, the Evening Standard has revealed.

Dr Comfort Momoh, a specialist in dealing with these injuries at St Thomas’ Hospital, said: 'These statistics show a very significant number of women are being treated for FGM.

'But there are still lots out there who are not being identified because they don’t know where to go for help, aren’t being referred by GPs or are too scared to come forward.

'I’m really worried about girls, in particular. Where are they going to seek help? The GPs who are their first point of call often don’t have the knowledge. We also need teachers and lecturers to do more to at least signpost girls towards help.'

Nimko Ali was seven when she underwent Female Genital Mutilation in Somalia and now campaigns against it through her charity Daughters of Eve.

'For too long, it has been passed off as a "cultural" ritual. But this act is not about celebration. FGM is gender-based violence, it's as simple as that,' she said.

It came as Director of Public Keir Starmer said it was 'only a matter of time' before there is a prosecution for female genital mutilation.

'I think a prosecution is much closer now than it's been at any stage since this was made a criminal offence in this country,' he said.

'We have devised a strategy, and we have now got the intelligence-led operations that are bringing us very close to a prosecution.

'I do not think that's a failure - that is trying to grapple with a difficult problem. If it was easy there would have been a prosecution.'

United Nations Calls For Global Ban On Female Genital Mutilation

Novembro 27 2012, : International NEWS

Campaigners against female circumcision scored a major victory Monday with the approval by a key U.N. committee of a resolution calling for a global ban on female genital mutilation.
The resolution, adopted by consensus by the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee, calls the practice harmful and a serious threat to the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.

It calls on the U.N.'s 193 member states to condemn the practice, known as FGM, and launch education campaigns for girls and boys, women and men, to eliminate it. It also urges all countries to enact and enforce legislation to prohibit FGM, to protect women and girls "from this form of violence," and to end impunity for violators.

With 110 sponsors, the resolution is virtually certain to be approved by the full General Assembly, which is expected to take it up in the second half of December. Although not legally binding, assembly resolutions reflect international concerns and carry moral and political weight.

Italy's U.N. Ambassador Cesare Maria Ragaglini, who has been working with African partners for a ban, called the resolution "a breakthrough in the international campaign to end the harmful practice of FGM."

"I think that together we can change the fate of many young girls around the world, and today this goal appears closer than ever," he said. "The resolution, in condemning the practice and promoting social and educational programs, is ... the beginning of a new journey."

The centuries-old practice stems from beliefs that FGM controls women's sexuality, enhances fertility, or is required by religious belief – although both Muslim and Christian leaders have spoken out against it.

The procedure involves the removal of a girl's clitoris and sometimes also other genital parts, usually in childhood or early adolescence. Critics say it can lead to painful sexual intercourse, complications in childbirth, and eliminates any pleasure for women during sex.

The U.N. said in 2010 that about 70 million girls and women had undergone the procedure, and the World Health Organization said about 6,000 girls were circumcised every day.

“FGM … Reduces Sexual Quality of Life”

Novembro 21 2012, : International NEWS
10/10/12 – Women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) have a significantly lower sexual quality of life finds a new study published today (10 October) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

FGM is defined as any procedure ‘involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia without medical reasons’.

This study, carried out by researchers at King’s College London, looks at the impact of FGM on the sexual quality of life of women who have undergone this procedure and compares them to a similar group of women who have not undergone FGM.

Seventy three women who had undergone FGM were compared to 37 women from a similar cultural background. Criteria for inclusion in the study included, women aged 16 or older, women who have undergone FGM, or to be from a cultural background where FGM is frequently practiced but not undergone FGM.

Sixty-three out of seventy-three (86.3 %) of the women whom had undergone FGM were from Somalia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Eritrea, whereas of the women who had not undergone FGM thirty-two out of thirty-seven (86.49%) were from Nigeria and Ghana.

The women completed a questionnaire containing the Sexual Quality of Life–Female (SQOL-F) questionnaire. This was divided into two parts: part one of the questionnaire asking demographic questions and the second part containing the SQOL-F questionnaire, previously used for measuring sexual quality of life in women with female sexual dysfunction aged over 18 years.

Demographics measured included, age, country of birth, civil status, number of children, smoking status, alcohol consumption, self-reported history of depression and type of FGM.

Overall the study found that women who have undergone FGM have a significantly lower overall SQOL-F score. Using the self reported questionnaire, with the highest score being 100, women who had undergone FGM rated their sexual quality of life on average 26.4 points lower than women who had not undergone FGM.

The researchers also conducted further analysis by dividing the total number of women into those who were sexually active and those who were not sexually active. They found that in sexually active women FGM type III is associated with the lowest sexual quality of life scores.

Professor Janice Rymer, Dean of Undergraduate Medicine and Professor of Gynaecology, King’s College London and co-author of the paper said:

“FGM is abuse of women and we need to do all we can to eradicate the practice. We can help to do this by educating people about the harm that it causes and this study adds to our knowledge as we show, not surprisingly, that FGM has a detrimental effect on a woman’s sexual life.

“FGM is always traumatic and has no known health benefits, and the complications range from bleeding and infection to death. Although the physical complications have previously been reported, the effects on sexual function and satisfaction were poorly understood.

“As a result of high rates of migration of women from nations where this practice is considered commonplace, to areas where it is not, it is important to all multidisciplinary practitioners to have an understanding of the impact of this practice on the women that we provide care for. The effect of a reduced or poor sexual quality of life is likely to have an effect on the general well being of women. It is important to raise the profile of the damage that is caused with regards to sexual function in the hope that this may go some way to eradicating the procedure for future generations.”

BJOG Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Pierre Martin-Hirsch, added:

“FGM is a harmful and unacceptable practice. This study highlights that it has a lasting impact not only physically but emotionally. It is important that healthcare workers are aware of FGM and with an expansion of the migrant population they may see increasing numbers of women affected.”

Full text: Andersson, S., Rymer, J., Joyce, D., Momoh, C. and Gayle, C. (2012), Sexual quality of life in women who have undergone female genital mutilation: a case–control study. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12004

Elected representatives in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries step up cooperation against the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)

Outubro 01 2012, : International NEWS
September 2012 – Parliamentarians from Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Togo met in Ouagadougou on 5 September to discuss the problem of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in their country, particularly in border areas. For several years now, Burkina Faso has been a pioneer in Africa in trying to stamp out the excision of women and young girls, a practice that has been illegal since 1996. However, FGM/C persists and prevalence is still greater than 75 percent in several areas, particularly in several border zones.

Supported by AWEPA, the European Parliamentarians with Africa Association, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund, and following the activities organised in April this year, the parliamentarians from Burkina Faso, Mali and other neighbouring countries wished to further examine the question of transborder excision, identified as one of the reasons the practice persists. Mali shares a long border with Burkina Faso and other countries in the region, and, to date, has still not adopted a law against FGM/C, despite the efforts made in this direction by the network of Malian parliamentarians to combat violence against women. The absence of a law in Mali encourages people to cross the border to carry out excision. These borders are often open with very little control. The Belgian Senator and member of AWEPA, Mrs Dominique Tilmans, also taking part in this activity, broached the issue of excision in immigrant communities in Europe and, in several of her interventions, emphasised the need to continue awareness raising efforts, the crucial role of the parliamentarians as opinion leaders, but also the role of the media in this struggle, as well as the necessity of raising the awareness of men, given their role as head of the family and decision-makers within society.

After the attending MPs had exchanged experience and points of view, the meeting led to the adoption of a series of recommendations with a view to boosting the action of the parliamentarians against FMG/C, particularly pertaining to the cross-border phenomenon. From the point of view of the legislation, the parliamentarians recommended, among other things, that specific laws be adopted in the countries which don’t yet have any; that the texts be translated into the national languages and widely disseminated; that the networks of parliamentarians combating violence against women in the different countries be institutionalised, and cooperation encouraged between these groups for enhanced harmonisation of the national legislations; and that the involvement of regional organisations such as UEMOA and ECOWAS be sought, to facilitate the harmonising of the texts through directives. In terms of concrete action in the border areas, the parliamentarians also recommended that parliamentary focal points be set up in the border locations; the setting up of vigilance committees in the border villages be encouraged; periodic consensus frameworks be created at the borders and awareness raising actions be implemented and pursued in the border communities and areas.

The Bourkinan parliamentarians and the AWEPA team then went to Yatenga province on 6 and 7 September, to continue awareness raising operations at the level of the community. Two public audiences were organised in the villages of Zogoré and Sissamba in the municipality of Ouahigouya, with the support of two civil society organisations, the associations AMMIE and Santé Plus. The Burkinan MPs and the European parliamentarian, with the aid of audiovisual materials, spent a long time discussing the question with local population groups, to exchange information about the harmful effects of the practice, the contents and provisions of the law against mutilation, and the role of individuals – men, women, traditional chiefs and religious leaders – within family and community. Several people gave testimony – fathers, mothers, children and former excisers – in turn told of their experiences as a consequence of the practice which were often very hard or even tragic. In addition to the showing of an awareness raising film, a forum-stage play highlighted the ins and outs of FGM/C practices, consolidating the awareness raising efforts of the communities visited.

This activity was organised within the scope of AWEPA’s programme called “The role of parliamentarians in the abandonment of FGM/C”.

Photo: MPs discuss the approach chosen for awareness raising in the villages
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