Original research

432 Somali women’s birth experiences in Canada after earlier female genital mutilation

Birth. 2000 Dec;27(4):227-34.
432 Somali women’s birth experiences in Canada after earlier female genital mutilation.
Chalmers B, Hashi KO
BACKGROUND: Women with previous female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as circumcision) are migrating, with increasing frequency, to countries where this practice is uncommon. Many health care professionals in these countries lack experience in assisting women with female genital mutilation during pregnancy and birth, and they are usually untrained in this aspect of care. Somali women who customarily practice the most extensive form of female mutilation, who were resident in Ontario and had recently given birth to a baby in Canada, were surveyed to explore their perceptions of perinatal care and their earlier genital mutilation experiences.
METHOD: Interviews of 432 Somali women with previous female genital mutilation, who had given birth to a baby in Canada in the past five years, were conducted at their homes by a Somali woman interviewer.
RESULTS: Findings suggested that women’s needs are not always adequately met during their pregnancy and birth care. Women reported unhappiness with both clinical practice and quality of care.
CONCLUSIONS: Changes in clinical obstetric practice are necessary to incorporate women’s perceptions and needs, to use fewer interventions, and to demonstrate greater sensitivity for cross-cultural practices and more respectful treatment than is currently available in the present system of care.
Archives Blog Review

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.

Archives Blog Original research

The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Health Care for Women International. 2003 24(2) 115-124

The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Bilkis Vissandjée, Mireille Kantiébo, Alissa Levine & Radegonde N’Dejuru


Our goal is to explore the practices of female genital excision and infibulation as they relate to gender identity and the acculturation process in Canada. We examined relevant research on these issues and share the results of a nationwide project conducted in 1997–1999 among 162 Canadian immigrants from regions in Africa where practices of excision and infibulation are still in effect. Our discussion of gender identity is inextricably linked to notions about the ways in which girls, women, and virginity are socially constructed. The complexity of the acculturation process along with the integration within a host society is highlighted and the conflicting identities available to women are brought to the fore.

This article can be purchased in this LINK

Archives Blog Guideline

SOGC Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. JOCG 2012 Feb; 272.

SOGC Policy Statement: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

Perron L, Senikas V

Clinical guideline on FGM/C. This policy statement has been reviewed by the Social Sexual Issues Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the Clinical Practice Gynaecology Committee, and approved by the Executive and Council of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

This guideline can be accessed in this LINK