Female genital mutilation in developed countries

Lancet. 2001 oct;358(9288):1177 – 1179

Female genital mutilation in developed countries

Bosch X


In 1998, WHO estimated that almost 137 million women of all ages had undergone female genital mutilation (also termed female circumcision). Every year a further 2 million girls are thought to be at risk. Although the problem exists primarily in 28 African and certain Asian and Middle Eastern countries, recent trends in international travel and emigration have brought the practice to the awareness of an increasing number of physicians and public policy agencies in developed countries.

About 27 000 women from countries in which female genital mutilation is a common practice are living in Sweden and 30 000 in Italy. In the UK, although data on prevalence are scarce, there are thought to be 3000-4000 new cases every year (BMA guidelines). Female genital mutilation in the UK is seen mainly in immigrants and refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Yemen. Under the UK Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act (1985), a person found guilty of the practice could be imprisoned for up to 5 years…