How to combat medicalization of FGM ?

=> To halt the growing medicalization of FGM, it is necessary to understand why healthcare professionals would accept to practice such an activity … (1,3)

  • They themselves belong to a community practicing FGM and it thus corresponds to their beliefs and traditions, or they believe that it is their duty to support an FGM request from the concerned woman, motivated on sociocultural grounds.
  • They consider medicalization to be the « less bad » and that it would reduce risks and medical complications
  • They consider FGM to be inoffensive or even medically indicated
  • They are attracted by the financial gain from their practice

=> So, what can be done ?

Better training for healthcare professionals:
The lack of knowledge on FGM and its consequences, as well as cultural and social implications behind it (control of girl’s / women’s sexuality and freedom), prompt healthcare professionals to easily accept their involvement in the practice. (9,10)

Provide a clear framework to healthcare professionals:
A political framework : a mobilized political will to abandon the practice and a clear position from the Ministry of Health.
A legal framework : states bringing healthcare professionals to justice when guilty of practicing FGM.
Protocols and guidelines in the health sector concerning FGM (notably the importance of the role of medical professional’s organizations)

Reinforce the inclusion of healthcare professionals in prevention programs led by NGOs:
NGOs should include issues related to medicalized FGM in their local programs and encourage the participation of healthcare professionals in the elaboration and implementation of such programs. Healthcare professionals must be informed of the important role they may play in preventing FGM their community (7).