Female Genital Cutting: Culture & Health Ahoua Koné, MPH, JD Attorney at Law Seattle Immigration & Family Law Group
FGC or FGM: what is it? • Moral outrage? • Legitimate exercise of one’s tradition? • Violation of rights? • Gender discrimination? • Health issue?
FGC by Country and Age Prevalence Among Younger and Older Women Percent Source: DHS STATcompiler: accessed online at www.measuredhs.com/statcompiler on July 21, 2004.
Classification (by outsiders) (Types 0-III or types I-IV) Type 0: Symbolic act Type I (Sunna) : Clitoridectomy - Partial or complete removal of clitoris Type II (Excision): Removal of clitoris + inner labia Type III (Infibulation): Removal of clitoris + both inner & outer labia + stitching
Reasons for practicing FGC? Religious/Cultural rite? Preservation of Female Virginity? Controlling/Enhancing Sexuality? Esthetic/Cosmetic reasons? Cleanliness? Unknown?
Health Risks: • Short Term consequences. • Long Term consequences.
Short term health consequences: (percentages from DHS surveys in West Africa, 1999-2001) • Shock / Physical pain • Hemorrhage (11-31%) • Infection (7-32%) • Slow healing (10-23%) • Death
Long term health consequences • Obstetric (Ivory Coast study, 1997) • Increased vaginal tearing & episiotomy (only first birth, 3rd type - infibulation) • No significant difference in obstructed labor, hemorrhage, infections (all types of circumcision) • Urinary tract and genital infections (no data on relative frequency) • Reduced sexual pleasure?
How to address it? Medicalization? Criminalization? Health Education? Advocacy? General Female Education? Eradication? Policy development? Cross-Cultural Interventions?