Quite apart from the suffering and danger it causes, female genital mutilation puts women and their unborn children at risk of serious complications during birth. The situation is sufficiently serious for the WHO once again to launch an attack on these practices.
The decision was taken following the results of a study involving 28,400 women in six African countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. The figures are startling, showing an increase of 30% in the risk of Caesarean section and, most significantly, an increase of 70% in cases of haemorrhage following birth!
Newborn babies also pay a high price: increased mortality among such infants varies from 15% to as much as 55%, depending on the nature of the mutilation. According to the WHO, of every 1,000 births that take place in Africa, 10 to 20 result in the death of the child because of these practices!
Joy Phumaphi, assistant director-general of “Family and Community Health” at the WHO, finds these figures intolerable. “These practices must not continue. We must support the communities who are striving to abandon them. Equally, it is out of the question for us to authorise the medicalisation of such mutilations. In no case can the WHO accept that they should be carried out by medical staff”.
You may think that this goes without saying? But in fact it’s far better stated as, in some countries, there is a call for these barbaric practices to be carried out by healthcare workers … in the name of “tradition”! Let’s remember that every year across the world, more than 2 million women and young girls pay this heavy price.