More training needed on genital mutilation

2 minute read

All medical practitioners should be trained to identify and manage complications related to genital mutilation, AMA says

The AMA has responded to research showing the prevalence of female genital mutilation in Australia by calling for increased training for doctors.

In a position statement condemning the practice, the AMA said all medical practitioners should be trained to identify and manage complications related to the procedure.

Research published in January reported that up to 10% of Australian paediatricians had treated patients who had undergone genital mutilation.

Lead researcher and paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott said she was delighted that the AMA was taking a strong stand on the issue.

“[Genital mutilation] is a hidden, but likely significant, problem in Australia,” she said. “Few paediatricians say they have had training in female genital mutilation and many lack knowledge about the groups at most risk, the types of mutilation, its complications, where to refer, and their legal obligations regarding reporting to child protection authorities.”

Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other deliberate injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

“There is no medical justification for female genital mutilation,” the AMA said. “The practice can have devastating and, in extreme cases, fatal consequences.”

Women who have undergone genital mutilation were likely to need significant specialised, long-term medical care, particularly in the perinatal period.

The AMA stressed the importance of cultural sensitivity by doctors treating women and families affected by genital mutilation.

Genital mutilation is illegal under Australian law and is considered a direct violation of human rights.

Any medical practitioner who was found to have participated in such a procedure should be reported to the police and the Medical Board of Australia to face criminal and professional disciplinary action, the AMA said.

The AMA said there was a global trend towards medical practitioners carrying out the procedure driven by the “erroneous belief” that this was a form of harm minimisation.

But the harm caused by genital mutilation did not arise out of unforeseen complications, the AMA said.

“On the contrary, it is in essence the purpose of the procedure.”




End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×