Despite the efforts of women’s rights advocates, international health bodies and national governments, FGM/C is an enduring problem and new challenges are emerging.
FGM/C is increasingly carried out by some doctors and other healthcare providers; this is known as medicalisation. 16 million women report having been mutilated/cut by a medical professional (1).
The College is committed to supporting an end to all forms of FGM/C worldwide. As a health professional body, we have an important role to play in advocating to end FGM/C and its medicalisation. As well as amplifying the global movement of survivors and civil society groups, we aim to combat FGM/C through our own research, training, and advocacy.
In line with this aim, we have developed a training course for health care workers, which was successfully piloted in Alexandria, in May 2023. This training programme equips health workers with the knowledge and skills to recognise the harm of FGM/C for girls and women, understand the legal consequences of practicing FGM/C, and become advocates for eradicating the practice in their local communities. 31 healthcare workers participated in the Alexandria pilot, which was facilitated by Members of the RCOG, the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Alexandria, and Doctors Against FGM.
The College is building on this successful pilot, with plans for further training for health workers in Cairo and Asyut in Upper Egypt. We are seeking opportunities to roll this out to other countries with high rates of medicalised FGM/C in Africa.
Shell-Duncan B, Njue C, Moore Z. The medicalization of female genital mutilation/cutting: what do the data reveal? New York: Population Council; 2017.