Health

Doctors given fresh guidelines on caring for FGM women

  • 10 July 2015
  • From the section Health
pregnant woman
Image caption Women who are pregnant and have undergone FGM need appropriate care

Fresh guidelines have been produced for doctors in the UK caring for women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).

The guidelines, published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, say doctors should be aware of the health complications of FGM and understand the laws around it.

About 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales are thought to be affected.

The practice is illegal in the UK.

FGM, also termed female circumcision, refers to any procedure that alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is a painful ritual carried out on women and young girls from certain communities from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The biggest risks from female genital mutilation are infections, complications during pregnancy and psychological trauma.

Dr Naomi Low-Beer, lead author of the RCOG guidelines, said FGM was "a violation of human rights and a form of child abuse for which there can be no justification".

She added: "Thousands of vulnerable women in the UK are living with the long-term physical and psychological consequences of FGM, and these women must receive high quality care by obstetricians, gynaecologists and other healthcare professionals.

"We must be aware of our pivotal responsibility to provide accessible advice, treatment and support whilst ensuring that children are protected."

Dr Manish Gupta, co-chair of the RCOG Guidelines Committee, said the guidelines provided more clarity on how health professionals should manage FGM.

"Trusts have a responsibility to ensure that all women with FGM can access specialist FGM services, and that their staff have received appropriate training."

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2005 in Scotland states that FGM is illegal unless it is necessary for health reasons.

The law states that is also illegal to arrange for a UK national to be taken overseas to undergo FGM.

All acute trusts, general practices and mental health trusts must record data about women with FGM on a monthly basis.

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