Female genital mutilation and other harmful practices
Research studies on the medicalization of female genital mutilation
Assessing the medicalization of FGM in Mali
The medicalization of FGM in Mali was the subject of this 1998 study. Health service staff were trained to understand FGM and its complications, and were also trained in information-education-communication (IEC) techniques. FGM-related IEC activities were then introduced into health talks at the clinics and during individual consultations with clients whenever feasible. Fourteen health centres were involved in the study, 108 health care providers were interviewed, 5390 women were observed during consultations, and 1633 women were interviewed following their consultations.
The study was conducted in areas and among ethnic groups with high prevalence rates of FGM. Various types of FGM were found. Women were observed during delivery and it was noted that normal delivery was more likely in women who had not undergone FGM. Of the women who delivered, 29% of the circumcised women had complications, while only 7% of non-circumcised women had complications.
The majority of service providers (54%) had dealt at least once with clients suffering an immediate complication related to FGM, and 36% had referred a client for further treatment due to complications. Health care workers had experience with complications, but also felt that their skills were limited in the management of these cases. Of the health care personnel interviewed, 13% said that genital cutting was practised in their health facility, 4% said they had performed at least one procedure, and 2% said they would continue to do so.
The study found that, despite the training and the increase in health care workers interest in and concern about the problem of FGM, only 4% of the clients interviewed had received information on FGM during the study period. Recommendations subsequent to the research include training on FGM for both present and future health workers, and a ban on female genital cutting in health care facilities.
1. Study of the effectiveness of training Malian social and health agents in female genital cutting issues and in educating their clients. Bamako, Association for the Support and Development of Population Activities, 1998. (English translation by the Population Council, 2007).