Magazine article The Christian Century

African Church Leaders Oppose Female Genital Mutilation in Hospitals

Magazine article The Christian Century

African Church Leaders Oppose Female Genital Mutilation in Hospitals

Article excerpt

International rights groups, churches, and activists are escalating campaigns against female genital mutilation now that girls are checking into hospitals to have the procedure.

In what is being referred to as the medicalization of FGM, doctors, nurses, and other health practitioners are secretly performing the procedures at the request of families.

"They are performing FGM for the money in hospitals and other places," said Richard Nyangoto, a Roman Catholic priest in Kisii County, an area in Kenya's southwest where FGM is widely practiced.

Health-care providers now perform up to 18 percent of FGM cases, and the trend is growing, according to the World Health Organization.

"Taking it to hospital does not make it right," Nyangoto said. "It's evil."

The move to hospitals is driven by the desire to improve hygiene and avoid infection, said Grace Uwizeye, the FGM Program officer at Equality Now, a global women's rights organization.

A mix of religious, cultural, and social factors perpetuate the practice. In many communities the partial removal of a woman's external genitalia is part of the traditional rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood. Consequences include severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty passing urine, infection, and even death.

In 2014, an Egyptian father and a doctor were acquitted for the murder of a young girl, Soheir al-Batea, who died on the operating table while undergoing FGM.

In Kenya, at least three deaths were attributed to FGM in 2014. …

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