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Friday, February 13, 2009

Portugal ‘high risk’ for female circumcision

(from Portugal News Online)
The World Health Organisation has classified Portugal as ‘high risk’ for practice of female genital mutilation due to the large number of immigrants from countries like Guinea-Bissau where the custom is widespread, an expert said this week.
Sandra Piedade, a research fellow at Lisbon’s state Higher Institute for Labour and Business Sciences (ISCTE), told the Lusa News Agency that although the issue of female circumcision in Portugal “is surrounded by secrecy” over ten percent of healthcare workers interviewed in a study said they have come across cases of young girls being mutilated.
Guinea-Bissau is the ex-Portuguese colony with the highest rate of female circumcision - at 45 percent of all women. Piedade said her study focused particularly on Guinean women in Portugal and their continued belief in the traditional practice, usually carried out on girls between five and 11 years.
There is a gap in Portuguese law in relation to female genital mutilation, said Piedade, calling for “more severe penalties” for practitioners of female circumcision in Portugal.
Victims need better medical and psychological support, the researcher added, and Portugal’s medical profession needs to gather more accurate data on increasing cases of female circumcision among Portugal’s immigrant communities. TPN/Lusa