Perron et al.: Female genital cutting.

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2013 Nov;35(11):1028-45.

Female genital cutting.

Perron L, Senikas V, Burnett M, Davis V; Social Sexual Issues Committee, Burnett M, Aggarwal A, Bernardin J, Clark V, Davis V, Fisher W, Pellizzari R, Polomeno V, Rutherford M, Sabourin J; Ethics Committee, Shapiro J, Akhtar S, Camire B, Christilaw J, Corey J, Nelson E, Pierce M, Robertson D, Simmonds A.

Ottawa ON.


Objective: To strengthen the national framework for care of adolescents and women affected by female genital cutting (FGC) in Canada by providing health care professionals with: (1) information intended to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the practice; (2) directions with regard to the legal issues related to the practice; (3) clinical guidelines for the management of obstetric and gynaecological care, including FGC related complications; and (4) guidance on the provision of culturally competent care to adolescents and women with FGC. Published literature was retrieved through searches of PubMed, CINAHL, and The Cochrane Library in September 2010 using appropriate controlled vocabulary (e.g., Circumcision, Female) and keywords (e.g., female genital mutilation, clitoridectomy, infibulation). We also searched Social Science Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Gender Studies Database, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses in 2010 and 2011. There were no date or language restrictions. Searches were updated on a regular basis and incorporated in the guideline to December 2011. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and health technology-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.

Values: The quality of evidence in this document was rated using the criteria described in the Report of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (Table 1). Summary Statements 1. Female genital cutting is internationally recognized as a harmful practice and a violation of girls’ and women’s rights to life, physical integrity, and health. (II-3) 2. The immediate and long-term health risks and complications of female genital cutting can be serious and life threatening. (II-3) 3. Female genital cutting continues to be practised in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, and Sudan. (II-3) 4. Global migration patterns have brought female genital cutting to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America, including Canada. (II-3) 5. Performing or assisting in female genital cutting is a criminal offense in Canada. (III) 6. Reporting to appropriate child welfare protection services is mandatory when a child has recently been subjected to female genital cutting or is at risk of being subjected to the procedure. (III) 7. There is concern that female genital cutting continues to be perpetuated in receiving countries, mainly through the act of re-infibulation. (III) 8. There is a perception that the care of women with female genital cutting is not optimal in receiving countries. (III) 9. Female genital cutting is not considered an indication for Caesarean section. (III)

Recommendations 1. Health care professionals must be careful not to stigmatize women who have undergone female genital cutting. (III-A) 2. Requests for re-infibulation should be declined. (III-B) 3. Health care professionals should strengthen their understanding and knowledge of female genital cutting and develop greater skills for the management of its complications and the provision of culturally competent care to adolescents and women who have undergone genital cutting. (III-A) 4. Health care professionals should use their knowledge and influence to educate and counsel families against having female genital cutting performed on their daughters and other family members. (III-A) 5. Health care professionals should advocate for the availability of and access to appropriate support and counselling services. (III-A) 6. Health care professionals should lend their voices to community-based initiatives seeking to promote the elimination of female genital cutting. (III-A) 7. Health care professionals should use interactions with patients as opportunities to educate women and their families about female genital cutting and other aspects of women’s health and reproductive rights. (III-A) 8. Research into female genital cutting should be undertaken to explore women’s perceptions and experiences of accessing sexual and reproductive health care in Canada. (III-A) The perspectives, knowledge, and clinical practice of health care professionals with respect to female genital cutting should also be studied. (III-A). 9. Information and guidance on female genital cutting should be integrated into the curricula for nursing students, medical students, residents, midwifery students, and students of other health care professions. (III-A) 10. Key practices in providing optimal care to women with female genital cutting include: a. determining how the woman refers to the practice of female genital cutting and using this terminology throughout care; (III-C) b. determining the female genital cutting status of the woman and clearly documenting this information in her medical file; (III-C) c. ensuring the availability of a well-trained, trusted, and neutral interpreter who can ensure confidentiality and who will not exert undue influence on the patient-physician interaction when providing care to a woman who faces language challenges; (III-C) d. ensuring the proper documentation of the woman’s medical history in her file to minimize the need for repeated medical histories and/or examinations and to facilitate the sharing of information; (III-C) e. providing the woman with appropriate and well-timed information, including information about her reproductive system and her sexual and reproductive health; (III-C) f. ensuring the woman’s privacy and confidentiality by limiting attendants in the room to those who are part of the health care team; (III-C) g. providing woman-centred care focused on ensuring that the woman’s views and wishes are solicited and respected, including a discussion of why some requests cannot be granted for legal or ethical reasons; (III-C) h. helping the woman to understand and navigate the health system, including access to preventative care practices; (III-C) i. using prenatal visits to prepare the woman and her family for delivery; (III-C) j. when referring, ensuring that the services and/or practitioners who will be receiving the referral can provide culturally competent and sensitive care, paying special attention to concerns related to confidentiality and privacy. (III-C).

There is no LINK to view this article online.