American Gynaecologists: Legalize Clitoral ‘Nicks,’ Alternative to Female Genital Mutilation
Countries that have banned female genital mutilation (FGM) should allow less invasive practices such as small surgical nicks to girls’ genitalia as a compromise, two American gynecologists said on Monday.
But campaigners against FGM strongly criticized the proposal, saying it would undermine global efforts to eradicate the internationally condemned ritual.
At least 200 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM in over 30 countries, according to U.N. estimates.
The ancient practice usually involves the partial or total removal of a girl’s external genitalia. In some cases the vaginal opening is also sewn up.
But some communities practice less invasive rituals such as pricking or nicking the clitoris.
The U.S. gynecologists, writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, argued that permitting more minimal procedures could allow families to uphold cultural and religious traditions while protecting girls from more dangerous forms of cutting.
Communities which support FGM often consider it a prerequisite for marriage. Many also see it as a religious obligation although it is not mentioned in the Koran or Bible.
But FGM can cause a host of physical and psychological problems.
Gynecologists Kavita Shah Arora and Allan Jacobs said procedures that slightly changed the look of a girl’s genitalia without damaging them were comparable to male circumcision or cosmetic procedures in Western countries like labiaplasty.
Laws against mild modifications were “culturally insensitive and supremacist and discriminatory towards women”, they wrote in the specialist journal, which is published by the British Medical Journal.