Protecting girls and women from harmful practices affecting their health: Are we making progress?

Int J Gynecol Obstet. 2009;106(2):128–31.

Protecting girls and women from harmful practices affecting their health: Are we making progress?

Cottingham J, Kismodi E

Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract 

Since female genital mutilation (FGM) was first recognized internationally in 1958, it has now become widely accepted and anchored in international law that FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights. Declines in the practice, however, are slow overall, and continued work for its elimination requires action and investment at many levels. Where the practice has diminished, community action has been widespread and sustained. Governments, who are ultimately responsible for the eradication of FGM, must take many measures to outlaw the practice and protect girls’ and women’s rights, through legislation, policy, education, and resource allocation. Among the other key actors, health care professionals have a particularly important role in treating women and in preventing FGM by actively opposing any medicalization of the practice.

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