The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) welcome the publication of the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) Committee on Bioethics Policy Statement Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors and support the main recommendations.
This statement echoes the RCOG’s own views on a practice which, in spite of the deep-rooted and complex cultural issues involved, is essentially barbaric, resulting in long-term morbidities and needless distress for women.
Both the RCOG and RCPCH are however, concerned by the suggestion in the AAP paper (Section ‘Education of patients and parents’, p. 1092) that ‘It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled paediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm’.
Female genital mutilation is in itself a ritual practice and to suggest that another ritual ‘nick’ replaces the FGM does not change the simple fact that pre-pubescent girls in some societies are expected to go through a violent and painful procedure which will scar them for the rest of their lives. For clinicians in any country, the act of engaging in any ritual female genital cutting, no matter how token, will make them complicit in continuing the practice of FGM.
To suggest that a qualified medical practitioner is involved in this practice as a ‘compromise’ does not make it less brutal and has the danger of giving legitimacy to FGM. Two wrongs do not make a right. The main objective for all civilised societies has to be the complete eradication of an unacceptable practice.
12 May 2010
2 June 2010: The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has released a news statement by their President in response to the AAP statement. To view click here.
1 June: the AAP have withdrawn their policy statement on female genital cutting. To view their press statement, click here.
To view the WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF/UNIFEM statement in response to the earlier AAP policy statement, please click here.
To view the letter ‘American paediatricians give support to medicalised female genital cutting (FGC)’ published in the BMJ on 4 May 2010, please click here.
To view the final report by the Department of Health Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Children Responding to violence against women and children – the role of the NHS published in March 2010 click here (see Recommendation 4 on p. 5).
To view the UK Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, click here.
To view RCOG Green-top Guideline Female genital mutilation and its management (May 2009), click here.
To view the RCPCH document The Health of Refugee Children. Guidelines for paediatricians (1999) click here (see section 5.10 on p. 17).