Female genital mutilation in developing countries: an agenda for public health response

European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2004 Oct;116(2):144-151

Female genital mutilation in developing countries: an agenda for public health response

Jones SD, Ehiri J, Anyanwu E


There is uncertainty regarding reasons for persistence of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the best strategies for intervening effectively. In spite of strong international condemnation, the persistence of FGM in many countries suggests that it can only be effectively eliminated when its practitioners are presented with a safe alternative that preserves their culture and, at the same time, protects the health and well being of women. Recognizing that there is no simple solution to the problem, this paper argues that interventions for preventing FGM should be non-directive, culture-specific and multi-faceted to be of practical relevance. Such interventions should not only motivate change, but should also help communities to establish practical means by which that change can occur. Potentially effective prevention interventions targeted at local practitioners of FGM, parents, at-risk adolescents, health and social workers, governments, religious authorities, the civil society, and communities are presented.

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