Complicity of health workers in female genital mutilation

February 6, 2015


February 6th is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. On this day, organisations worldwide pay attention to the harmful practice of ‘girl circumcision’, which is an old tradition in many countries, mainly in Africa and the Middle East.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”, as defined by the WHO. According to the UN, over 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Besides being a human rights violation in its own right, the practice also leads to severe health consequences, especially during sexual intercourse and child birth.

Involvement of health professionals

Although the practice of FGM cannot be justified by medical reasons, in many countries it is executed more and more often by medical professionals, which constitutes ones of the greatest threats to the abandonment of the practice. A recent analysis of existing data shows that more than 18% of all girls and women who have been subjected to FGM have had the procedure performed by a health-care provider and in some countries this rate is as high as 74%.

Recognizing the importance of engaging health workers in the effort to end FGM, the 2015 International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation will be marked under the theme “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation”.

Source and more information

A call to action for health workers around the world to mobilize against FGM – Joint Statement UNFPA, UNICEF, the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics