Female genital cutting
13 September 1999
MSF strongly opposes the practice of any form of female circumcision on the basis of the contravention of human rights which the practice represents, and its adverse health consequences. MSF teams witness and treat the direct medical complications of female circumcision, such as bleeding, serious infections, long-term complications at child birth and recurring genital infections. MSF never knowingly provides surgical instruments for female genital mutilation (FGM) to take place, nor do MSF staff take part in circumcision ceremonies. The 'medicalisation' of FGM, by which the procedure is carried out under sterile conditions, is no less of a violation of human rights and does not prevent many of the serious health consequences. The participation, however indirect, of medical staff in FGM practices would consitute a grave breach of ethical and professional standards. MSF works in a number of societies where female circumcision is practised. Given that female circumcision is deeply rooted in some cultural and social traditions, MSF acknowledges that its eradication will require a sustained effort over a very long term. Rather than adopt a strident campaigning approach which may alienated local communities, MSF supports local initiatives against the practice. Our training of traditional birth attendants and health staff also includes a strong component on the dire health consequences of the practice.