Intended for healthcare professionals


Female genital mutilation: whose problem, whose solution?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 13 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:106
  1. Ronán M Conroy (, senior lecturer
  1. Department of Epidemiology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland

    Tackle “cosmetic” genital surgery in rich countries before criticising traditional practices elsewhere

    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.

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    In Pokot society as in many others, genital mutilation marks entry into adulthood

    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 …

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