Today marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM – a day to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and to encourage concrete actions against the practice.
The RCOG supports the World Health Organization’s definition which states that any form of cutting or surgery to the genitalia for cultural or non-medical reasons should be classed as FGM.
The RCOG strongly opposes all forms of FGM and believes the practice is a form of abuse and a fundamental violation of the rights of girls and women, including the human right to physical, sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing. In the absence of any medical necessity, FGM can have devastating and long term consequences for girls and women.
It is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive have undergone some form of FGM mostly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the practice is widespread.
In England and Wales, where the practice is outlawed, it is suggested that 137,000 women and girls from FGM practising countries have undergone FGM, including 10,000 girls under the age of 15 years. A further 60,000 girls under 15 have been identified as being potentially at risk of FGM each year.
FGM is internationally recognised as a human rights violation and a form of child abuse, breaching the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is a severe form of violence against women and girls.
The Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 calls for an end to FGM by 2030 under Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM.
Professor Janice Rymer, Vice President for Education at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“The harmful effects of FGM on girls and women can be devastating. We are committed to supporting clinicians providing health care and support to women who have been affected by FGM, as well as the women themselves.
“Our clinical guidelines provide clear advice for health professionals on the care of women with FGM before, during and after pregnancy. It also includes advice on the legal and regulatory responsibilities of doctors caring for women with FGM. We also have published information for women who have experienced FGM to help them understand their treatment options and where to seek support.
“Last year we collaborated with RCM and other key partners to produce a series of powerful videos to create awareness around the consequences of FGM for girls and women. By giving a voice to the girls and women affected, we hope to raise awareness of the tragic consequences of this form of abuse and ultimately to empower practicing communities to abandon FGM.”
Female genital mutilation – information for women
Female genital mutilation and its management – Green-top Guideline
Female genital cutting – case study for workshop/discussion
Tackling FGM in the UK - Intercollegiate recommendations for identifying, recording and reporting
United Nations – International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
Female genital mutilation fact sheet – World Health Organization
International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM