Why doctors need to speak out against female genital cutting in India

The BMJ Blog, 20 January 2017
Author: Aarefa Johari
“What is a doctor’s responsibility, then, in the face of such a ritual? Two of the most basic pillars of medical ethics are to do no harm and to act in the best interests of a patient. Female circumcision has no health benefits and can potentially harm girls and women. For a patient, it serves no scientific or medical interest. In fact, since khatna is not a medical procedure at all, girls being brought to get cut can hardly be called patients. Besides, a seven-year-old is not capable of giving informed consent to the procedure.”
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Misinformed debates on FGM can harm understanding

BMJ 2016;354:i4804
Author: Susan Bewley
“The BMJ reports that nearly 6000 cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) were identified last year in the UK. The UK Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 states that “A person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris.”
Find letter here.

FGM: police and border officers target travellers to high-risk countries

The Guardian, 7 September 2016
Author: Alice Ross
“All families travelling with girls aged under 18 were taken aside for conversations about FGM with police officers and Border Force officials as they stepped off the plane. Similar conversations are taking place in airports across the country, for both arrivals and departures.”
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Tough prison sentences ‘will not end FGM in Dagestan’

The Guardian, 23 August 2016
Author: Hajra Rahim, Rachel Horner
“A Russian journalist who reports on female genital mutilation says introducing prison sentences for perpetrators will not bring about an end to the practice, after a report released last week said that FGM was taking place in remote villages in the republic of Dagestan.”
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R v A2; R v Magennis; R v Vaziri (No. 24) [2016] NSWSC 737

Decision 9 June 2016
“Catchwords: CRIMINAL LAW –sentence –two offenders convicted of offences of female genital mutilation against two young girls – s. 45 Crimes Act 1900 – third offender convicted as an accessory after the fact to s. 45 offences – sentences of imprisonment imposed – each offender referred for assessment as to suitability for home detention – whether home detention should be ordered in each case – each offender assessed as suitable in home detention assessment report – where each of the offenders have different subjective cases – where the offender mother (A2) has expressed remorse – where the imposition of full-time custodial sentence upon A2 would act as a double punishment to the victims – where the acts were carried out by an elderly woman (Magennis) who suffers significant health problems – difficulty of managing health problems in custody – general deterrence of particular importance in case of religious leader (Vaziri) – calculated and deliberate acts by religious leader over a period of weeks to deflect police investigation – no finding of remorse in his favour – order that Offender A2 serve sentence by way of home detention – order that Offender Magennis serve sentence by way of home detention – order that Offender Vaziri serve sentence by way of full-time imprisonment”
Find decision here.

First person to be imprisoned over female genital mutilation in Australia

SMH, 14 June 2016
Author: Emma Partridge
“On Thursday, NSW Supreme Court Justice Peter Johnson sentenced Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, 59, to a minimum 11 months’ jail and maximum 15 months for being an accessory after the fact. “As the religious leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community in Sydney, he had manifested a clear, determined and calculated intention to obstruct the police so that no successful investigation of the use of ‘khatna’ in his own community could be achieved,” Justice Johnston said in a judgment.”
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A dangerous muddying of the waters?: The ‘significant harm’ of Re B and G (children) (care proceedings) [2015]

Med Law Rev first published online June 7, 2016  doi:10.1093/medlaw/fwv039
Author: Ruari D. Mcalister
“The academic debate rages on as to whether male circumcision really is in the best interests of the child or if it constitutes an abusive practice. This commentary discusses the recent case of Re B and G (children) (care proceedings) [2015] EWFC 3, delivered by the current President of the Family Division of the High court, Sir James Munby. Two key issues are raised by this judgment. First, that President Munby’s obiter comments constitute an attack on the legally accepted act of male circumcision by suggesting a similar nature between the illegal act of female genital mutilation (FGM) and that of male circumcision as well as the suggestion that male circumcision can be classed as a significant harm. Second, that this case reflects the woefully unprepared condition of the UK medical profession in dealing with FGM.”
Find abstract here.

 

Eliminating FGM: what can health professionals do?

The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10034, p2164
“Female genital mutilation (FGM)—defined by WHO as “procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”—is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Worldwide, more than 200 million girls and women suffer the physical and psychological consequences of FGM. …However, many health professionals worldwide are unaware of the negative health consequences of FGM and remain inadequately trained to recognise and manage the complications properly. Disturbingly, in several high-FGM-prevalent countries, between 9% and 74% of FGM procedures were performed by health professionals—the so-called medicalisation of FGM. On May 16, WHO published guidelines to help health professionals to improve the care of girls and women living with FGM.”
Find editorial here.