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SASOG Blog: 24 July 2018
Female genital mutilation
It is with deep sadness that we hear of the death of a 10-year old Somali girl, who demised from complications of female genital mutilation (FGM). The girl was taken to a traditional circumciser on 14 July by her mother. She was admitted to hospital following severe haemorrhage after the procedure but died 2 days later. Although Somalia prohibits FGM there is no legislation to punish offenders performing the procedure. Complications following the procedure are fairly common and deaths often go unreported or are registered under a different classification. FGM is still practised in approximately 30 countries around the world and more than 200 million women and girls have been subjected to it.

The International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM is held each year on 6 February to encourage global awareness of FGM and promote its eradication. SASOG views FGM of any type as a violation of human rights of girls and women and supports other global organisations in condemning the practice. Some healthcare professionals have argued for the medicalization of FGM, but this is not acceptable practise because it violates medical ethics and further legitimises and perpetuates the practice. The International Federation and Gyneacology and Obstetrics (FIGO) further reiterates the necessity of building a strong evidence base to ensure that providers offer high quality healthcare to girls and women who have experienced health complications from FGM. This base can provide much needed recommendations for clinical care, and highlight research gaps and research priorities that will help improve clinical practice.

FGM is not associated with any health benefit but is viewed in some societies as a “coming-of –age” ceremony. It is however encouraging to note that in some places where resistance to FGM has grown, such some rural districts in Kenya, communities have stopped cutting their girls and have begun designing new ceremonies that may serve as rite of passage without causing physical harm.
Priya Soma-Pillay
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