There was widespread discussion amongst our members on the issue of genital plastic surgery which is freely available to adult women and which is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and North America. While some see it in an entirely different light from female genital mutilation, others argue that social pressure and the desire to conform to social norms of beauty affect the free and informed consent of women who undergo it.
Nigeria lacks media engagement on FGM and journalists have little interest in the subject, resulting in few opportunities for affected girls and women to testify in the media and low budgets allocated to covering the issue.
In July 2018 the Anti-FGM Board and the Kenyan ministry of public service, youth and gender affairs published a Guideline for Conducting an Alternative Rite of Passage. It aims to harmonize and improve the ARP implemented in Kenya by defining the procedure and offering some key advice to ensure the ARP’s success.
Various arguments are put forward by detractors of medicalisation of FGM, practice against which the opposition is almost unanimous as we can see it through the statements of various international organisations and institutions showing a common condemnation of the medicalisation of FGM. The following organisations and institutions are opposed to any form of medicalisation of FGM:
To understand why medicalization is spreading, it is important to understand the arguments of people, including health professionals, in favour of the practice.
Two members, from the United Kingdom and Australia, shared information on ongoing trials concerning the identification of possible FGM type IV in a girl child.
Isma Benboulerbah, Project Officer at the European Network END FGM, shared her knowledge of procedures aimed at modifying women's genitalia and controlling their sexuality in the MENA region, focusing mainly on Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Aesthetic or cosmetic genital surgeries and procedures include a wide variety of practices performed for aesthetic or sexual reasons, including labioplasty (inner labia surgery), labia majora enlargement or reduction, genital whitening, G spot injections, hymenoplasty (hymen reconstruction), laser vaginal rejuvenation, clitoral hood reduction, etc.
The "labia minora" (inner lips) are the thin lips or folds of skin on either side of the vulva. Their size varies greatly from woman to woman, so there is no "normal" labial length. Nevertheless, cultural differences exist in terms of aesthetic and sexual preferences for small or long lips.
Type IV FGM includes a range of procedures performed on the female genitalia that do not fall under the first three types (partial or total removal of the clitoral gland, excision of the labia minora or labia majora, and infibulation). The definition of type IV has been modified in the new typology, published in 2007. It is now less detailed than the previous one (1995). Practices such as the introduction of corrosive substances and herbs into the vagina, and stretching of the labia have been removed.