Is Female Genital Nicking the Right Alternative to Mutilation? [Poll]

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Feb 23, 2016 08:20 AM EST

Two gynecologists from the United States are suggesting that minor forms of female genital mutilation or FGM should be permitted to prevent women from undergoing more invasive procedures. However, other medical experts have opposed to this proposal, arguing that permitting this practice violates the rights of women.

The World Health Organization defines FGM as any deliberate attempt to harm or modify a woman's genital organs. Mutilation of the female genital organs is practiced in 29 countries in the Middle East and Africa, affecting 125 million females.

According to UNICEF, the procedure is commonly done to girls under the age of 5. Some women undergo the procedure to follow cultural norms and make them more suitable for marriage.

In four out of 14 countries where FGM is practiced, approximately half of the women believe that the procedure is mandated by their religion. However, WHO data indicates that no documents have been found which recommend practicing FGM.

"The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women," the health organization stated.

The WHO has listed four major categories of FGM. Type IV includes the most invasive non-medical procedures, including piercings and cauterization.

Dr. Kavita Shah Arora and Dr. Allan Jacobs, the authors of the study, believe that permitting minor procedures such as cutting the vulva or the clitoral hood would allow women to abide by their cultural norms while discouraging them from undergoing more invasive forms of mutilation.

"If a girl, by undergoing a small vulvar nick in infancy, forestalls subsequent vulvar infibulation done under dangerous conditions, we would consider this a worthwhile trade-off," the authors stated in their study.

The authors are also proposing to change the way FGM is categorized. Instead of grouping similar procedures together, Arora and Jacobs are suggesting that procedures with the same effects are placed in the same group.

There are five categories under the proposed system. Category 1 includes all procedures with no lasting effects on the form or function of the organ.

Category 2 includes procedures that may affect the appearance of the organ but does not affect the function of the organ. Labiaplasty is one such procedure.

Categories 3 to 5 constitute all other procedures that would cause irreparable harm to the private area, affecting the woman's ability to achieve sexual satisfaction, get pregnant or give birth. It is the procedures that fall under the last three categories that should be banned, the authors stated in their report.

Should some forms of female genital mutilation be allowed? Answer the polls below to let us know what you think.

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