Wednesday, 12 September 2007


My thanks to Janeway for having pointed me in the direction of this article.

There have been reports recently originating from an Associated Press article about a French woman of Senegalese descent, who suffered FGM at the age of six.

It sounds familiar to anyone who has been following Papillon’s story but while there are similarities (they are even the same age), there are also differences. Aminata suffered this mutilation in Paris, in a basement of a dormitory for immigrants. There is a fairly graphic description on this site.

There are one or two points in the article which I think are off the mark.

It cites a BMJ article (without the reference) saying “The British Medical Journal recently raised the question of whether requests for cosmetic surgery on the genitals may be a smoke screen for mutilations” but, if I have the correct one, the author actually says that the cosmetic surgery is just as much a mutilation: “It is Western medicine which, by a process of disease mongering, is driving the advance of female genital mutilation by promoting the fear in women that what is natural biological variation is a defect, a problem requiring the knife.”

It also quotes a British midwife as saying that every year she alone treats 500-600 victims. The implication is that 500-600 girls are still being subjected to the mutilation, whereas these cases could date back many years. In fact it is probably only when young women leave home or reach child bearing age that anything is done about it, because it’s unlikely to be the parents who instigate treatment. That means they date back over 20 years in most cases and could easily be 30 or more.

There is a further point made that “in France, tough surveillance is thought to have all but eradicated genital mutilation for girls aged up to 6, so the procedure is simply performed at a later age”. I can find no reference to support this, nor does it seem very logical. The trend, if anything, is to perform the procedure at earlier ages, and I’m not aware of any medical examinations that stop happening at the age of 6 (but correct me if I'm wrong).

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