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

What is genital mutilation?

The editorial on female genital mutilation1 makes the point that
this term means many things to many people and that some of the “experts”
on this topic have a poor understanding of the socio-cultural background
against which some of these practices occur.
We are against all forms of “genital treatment” wherever it occurs,
especially those which may be potentially harmful, including excision of
the clitoris, labia, vaginoplasty and genital piercing. Genital piercing
as a form of genital mutilation, especially with multiple piercings has
remained largely unaddressed, despite the significant health problems2

For too long also, the emphasis has been on female genital
mutilation with a near total lack of attention regarding male genital
mutilation. Male genital mutilation takes the form of circumcision, penile
and scrotal piercings which commonly involve multiple sites with the
insertion of a variety of “jewellery.” The latter practice is enjoying an
upsurge among young and middle aged males; despite significant health
The time is ripe for an all inclusive assault on genital mutilation
wherever it occurs be it on males or females.


1. Conroy R M. Female genital mutilation: whose problem, whose
solution? BMJ 2006; 333:106-7.

2. Esen U I. Body piercing- a growing problem for clinicians.
Hospital Medicine 2004; 65(2) : 86-7.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 July 2006
Umo I. Esen
Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Eric Archibong
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, South Shields, NE34 OPL