WHO brings out handbook on combating FGM

Mumbai: To make it easier for healthcare workers to handle cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the World Health Organization (WHO) has brought out a clinical handbook on care of girls and women living with FGM. While FGM is practised in different forms in several countries, in India it is prevalent among the Dawoodi Bohras.

The handbook, released earlier this week, is based on three guiding principles: victims should get high quality care, healthcare providers performing FGM is not acceptable as it violates medical ethics, and stakeholders at all levels, especially healthcare providers, should play a key role in preventing FGM.

Shaheeda Kirtane, a city-based anti-FGM activist, said the WHO handbook is comprehensive, well-organised and well-written. “It should be used as a teaching and learning tool for medical students, social workers and professionals working with girls and women affected by FGM. Victims deserve informed, compassionate and culturally sensitive care, especially from healthcare providers.”

Comprehensive guide

Ms. Kirtane, an intervener in a PIL against FGM filed in the Supreme Court, added it gives valuable insight, thorough and respectful understanding of the cultures and societies that practice FGM, and includes strategies on emergency, long and short-term medical and clinical care, legal and child protection issues, and the psychological, social, and cultural issues surrounding FGM.

Masooma Ranalvi, convenor, WeSpeakOut, a group fighting FGM, said India is grappling with the problem at a different level. “Here, there is this whole debate on acknowledging that the practice exists.” She said their research has found that 97% of women who remembered their FGM experience from childhood recalled it as painful. 33% believed that it negatively impacted their sex life and nearly 10% women who had undergone the procedure specifically mentioned urinary problems, recurring urinary tract infections, burning and incontinence.

“The effects are irreversible and for life. Bohra community leaders need to understand this and be sensitive,” Ms. Ranalvi said.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 6:35:14 PM |

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