Cultural knowledge is the key to understanding

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7012.1088a (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1088
  1. Elspeth Webb, Senior lecturer in child health
  1. Department of Child Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XN

    EDITOR,--J A Black and G D Debelle's review of female genital mutilation is superficial in its treatment of the anthropological context and the complexity of the challenges facing professionals in child protection.2 Current beliefs about the function of female genital mutilation are diverse and include easier childbirth and the prevention of infant death. Focusing on female genital mutilation solely as a control on female sexuality not only misrepresents the situation but is unlikely to enable professionals to establish meaningful dialogues with the communities in question—an essential prerequisite to eradication of the practice. Many communities regard the operations performed at initiation essential, to remove …

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