By Women in London
On 26 April 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a revised “Policy Statement – Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors” which significantly weakens their commitment to health and well being of infants and children. The AAP is endangering rights of young girls at risk of FGM by suggesting the performance of Type IV* FGM as ‘a possible compromise to avoid greater harm’. FGM, in all its forms, is a violation of human rights and poses immediate and long-term health consequences to girls and women.
FORWARD is deeply concerned at this weakening of policy on FGM and is calling on the AAP to revert to its caveat free 1998 policy statement that ‘opposes all forms of female genital mutilation’.
“All forms of FGM are a clear breach of a girl’s human rights and this practice should not be perpetuated by health professionals, whose duty is to care and protect the girl. FGM carried out by medical professionals gives a legitimate and acceptable face to a practice which damages women’s and girls’ reproductive, sexual and psychological health. Performing FGM in sterile conditions does not alleviate the long-term effects of FGM and international bodies such as the World Health Organisation have consistently opposed such a move,” states FORWARD’s Executive Director, Naana Otoo-Oyortey.The AAP has downgraded its recommendation to ‘oppose all forms of Female Genital Mutilation’, as stated in the 1998 recommendations, to ‘oppose all forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) that pose risk of physical or psychological harm’. It has qualified the recommendation that ‘its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out FGM’, by now applying it only to ‘harmful forms of FGC’. Most seriously, it has also erased altogether the 1998 recommendation that ‘its members decline to perform any medically unnecessary procedure that alters the genitalia of female infants, girls, and adolescents’.
In effect, the new AAP policy promotes changes in US federal and state laws that would ‘enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick’ for example ‘pricking or incising the clitoral skin to satisfy cultural requirements’.
FORWARD is an African Diaspora women’s campaign and support charity. Our work responds to the need to safeguard dignity and advance the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of African women and girls. We work with individuals, communities and organizations to transform harmful practices and improve the quality of life of vulnerable girls and women.
FORWARD envisions a world where women and girls live in dignity, are healthy and have choices and equal opportunities to fulfil their potential. http://www.forwarduk.org.uk/
*The World Health Organisation identifies the following four types of FGM:
Type I: Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or the entire clitoris (clitoridectomy).
Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulations).
Type IV: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for no medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterisation