July 5, 2022

American paediatricians soften stand on female genital mutilitation

Female genital mutilation is illegal in
Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In the US “any
nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl is illegal. However,
the American
Academy of Pediatrics softened its opposition
to FGM because it fears that
it could actually worsen the situation. Because American doctors refuse,
parents often take girls back to their home countries where FGM is done in
unhygienic and unsafe conditions. In a revised policy statement, the AAP’s
bioethics committee suggests a compromise:

“It might be more effective if
federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to
families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid
greater harm.”

Dr. Friedman Ross told the New
York Times
that the AAP opposes “all types of female genital cutting that
impose risks or physical or psychological harm,” and consider the ritual nick
“a last resort,” but that the nick is “supposed to be as benign as getting a
girl’s ears pierced. It’s taking a pin and creating a drop of blood.”

However, critics of FGM were adamant that
even this concession was completely immoral. In the UK, the Royal College of
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of
Paediatrics and Child Health issued their own

“To suggest that a qualified medical
practitioner is involved in this practice as a ‘compromise’ does not
make it less brutal and has the danger of giving legitimacy to FGM.
Two wrongs do not make a right. The main objective for all civilised
societies has to be the complete eradication of an unacceptable

Michael Cook
female genital mutilation