Medicalized female genital mutilation/cutting: Contentious practices and persistent debates

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02/05/2018 12:00 am

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Purpose of Review

Female genital cutting/mutilation (FGM/C) performed by health care professionals (medicalization) and reduced severity of cutting have been advanced as strategies for minimizing health risks, sparking acrimonious ongoing debates. This study summarizes key debates and critically assesses supporting evidence.

Recent Findings

While medicalization is concentrated in Africa, health professionals worldwide have faced requests to perform FGM/C. Whether medicalization is hindering the decline of FGM/C is unclear. Factors motivating medicalization include, but are not limited to, safety concerns. Involvement of health professionals in advocacy to end FGM/C can address both the supply and demand side of medicalization, but raises ethical concerns regarding dual loyalty. Ongoing debates need to address competing rights claims.


Polarizing debates have brought little resolution. We call for a focus on common goals of protecting the health and welfare of girls living in communities where FGM/C is upheld and encourage more informed and open dialog.

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