‘Nicking’ female genitals could be solution to ending FGM

Activist Madina Bocoum Daff at an anti-FGM drive in Gabon

At least 200 million women and girls worldwide have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), but a new study claims the barbaric practice could be quelled by the introduction of “vulvar nicks.”

The controversial paper suggests that making small incisions in female genitals would be a suitable ‘compromise’ that wouldn’t cause severe damage to recipients, and could stop the procedure from being forced underground.

Dr Kavita Shah Arora, one of the authors of the study, explained that this conclusion had arisen out of a “pragmatic” need to address FGM.

“We have witnessed first-hand the long-term medical, sexual, and psychological trauma that results from extensive female genital alteration procedures. We are also aware that despite 30 years of advocacy, the prevalence of [this] remains high in many areas where it is commonly practiced. Thus, a new advocacy strategy was needed.” 

A UNICEF report released earlier this month estimated that 70m more women and girls had been subjected to female circumcision than previously calculated, with half of the 200m procedures taking place in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Last year’s Sustainable  Development Goals (previously known as the Millennium Development Goals) issued by the UN committed to eliminating FGM by 2030.

Reactions to the study have questioned whether devising a ‘solution’ to a cultural practice that has no roots in religion and is illegal in the UK and some other countries in the world, should be offered at all.

“You are cutting an organ that’s healthy and has nothing wrong with it, and for me, that is glorifying mutilation,” says Hibo Wardere, an anti-FGM campaigner who was forced to have the procedure in her native Somalia at the age of six.

“There’s no middle ground at all: you are changing the way a girl was created, and if we say that this is a compromise, we’re endorsing child abuse.”