- Ronán M Conroy (email@example.com), senior lecturer
- Department of Epidemiology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland
In this week's BMJ, Elmusharaf and colleagues present a study of the agreement between self reports of female genital mutilation and the findings of clinical examination in a cohort of girls and another of women.1 They report that girls and women were inaccurate in describing what had been done to them, and that the actual mutilations did not readily fit into the World Health Organization's classification system. These findings have implications for research and, more broadly, for tackling the problem of female genital mutilation worldwide. They suggest that we need to re-examine our current conceptualisation of female genital mutilation with a view to defining a valid and reliable definition and classification system.
The literature on female genital mutilation is long on polemic and short on data. Some writers make unsupported claims of physical and psychological adverse effects, something that hardly makes their case more credible among the very people who need to be convinced in …