Most of the currently available studies on psychological and sexual consequences of FGM have been led in Europe and North America on migrant women concerned by FGM. Factors such as migration, the integration in the host society as well as cultural and social environment, norms and customs must therefore be analyzed. Current studies emphasize the influence that external factors and the life path of the person have on psychological consequences of FGM.
First of all, we must understand that there is currently little research focusing specifically on FGM and mental health, and there are even less in developing countries. Most research was done on migrant girls and women in developed countries. In this way, it is difficult to draw conclusions on FGM consequences on mental health as the migratory journey and the confrontation with new social norms and beauty standards have a strong influence on the perception of herself,
Physical, sexual, social complications due to FGM can also impact women’s psychological well-being. The more the type of FGM is serious the more the complications can be important and thus concern women unequally.
FGM is often experienced as a traumatic experience with immediate psychological consequences as well as short and long-term consequences. Nevertheless, it is important to notice that all women react differently. The psychological consequences are not systematic nor universal and differ from a person to another.
ISF is a human rights NGO created in 1970. Based in Finland, ISF works in Kenya, Somaliland and Nicaragua through local CSOs and builds long-term partnerships with them to strengthen local ownership and sustainability. Its strategy focuses on combating violence against women and girls, particularly FGM, and on women's economic empowerment.
Religious leaders are highly respected within their communities in Ireland and are therefore able to influence behaviours and the adoption of social norms within these groups. Due to this, the Irish organisation AkiDwA trains religious leaders on issues surrounding FGM so as to make them real actors of change. Although the hierarchical nature of the religious structures may have given them some difficulties, the association has today been able to train nearly 70 religious leaders in the fight against FGM.
Religious leaders are highly respected within their communities in Ireland and are therefore able to influence behaviours and the adoption of social norms within these groups. Due to this, the Irish organisation AkiDwA trains religious leaders on issues surrounding FGM so as to make them real actors of change. Although the hierarchical nature of the religious structures may have given them some difficulties, the association has today been able to train nearly 70 religious leaders in the fight against FGM. They now intend to continue the debate in religious forums which are major events gathering many religious stakeholders in Ireland.
UNAF has set up workshops dedicated to migrant women. Over a period of 3 hours, the speakers work on the theme of sexuality following a holistic approach and promoting a participatory methodology. Although these women are often in a very precarious economic and social situation, and their sexual and reproductive rights may appear secondary to the imperative need to meet their primary needs, experience shows that once they start working on the issue of their sexuality, women no longer stop!
In the Tougan district of Burkina Faso, a promising programme has emerged under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and UNFPA. This project, which has now been extended to twelve districts, consists of integrating the themes of forced marriage and FGM into family planning programmes.
The work of Dr. Athena Patoulidis on the management of FGM by general practitioners (GPs) in Belgium highlighted several obstacles to the investment of practitioners on this issue: lack of knowledge and practical tools as well as fear of addressing FGM with patients and preferring to ignore the issue. GPs can, however, play a fundamental role in the prevention and care of girls and women who have undergone FGM. Dr. Patoulidis therefore set up training for practitioners based on the gaps identified in the study. She teaches general practitioners how to use the available tools as well as how to know when and how to refer them to other medical doctors as well as to specialised NGOs.