Protecting human rights in childbirth

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Midwives to ask women about FGM

Interesting story yesterday about plans for midwives to ask routine questions about female genital mutilation in ante-natal appointments. Generally women will not have vaginal examinations during their pregnancies, so unless the question is asked (and answered honestly) it’s impossible to know whether they have suffered FGM until they are examined during or after childbirth.

It’s not quite clear whether the main purpose of the new question is to identify women who might need additional support during childbirth (FGM can lead to complications) or whether it is to identify baby girls who may be at risk because they are born into families who have practiced FGM. Either way, midwives will need robust training and support to deal with the issue sensitively and ensure that women do not feel stigmatised and shut out from maternity care.

2 thoughts on “Midwives to ask women about FGM”

  1. There is a great article about this subject in the January 2013 Essentially Midirs mag. The article discusses renaming FGM to female genital cutting (FGC) so as not to alienate women for whom it is a cultural norm.

    • The terminology issue isn’t I think too difficult: by all means explain to those who need the explanation or generally use the term, that ‘mutilation’ is also sometimes called ‘cutting’. But don’t use ‘cutting’ or ‘circumcision’ as a replacement for ‘mutilation’, otherwise – FG *M* is what the (UK) law says it is, and no amount to alternative naming will lessen either the culpability in law, or the damage done to children when it happens.

      Also, there is a detailed WHO publication which deals with how midwives might approach questions of FGM: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/fgm/RHR_01_16/en/index.html … not for the faint-hearted, but very helpful and grounded.

      More info: #NoFGM @NoFGM1 http://paper.li/NoFGM1


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