I was asked to share information surrounding the medical consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM) with the community that I work with in South Sudan. I work in a trust back in London that has a specific clinic for reversals of FGM and psychological support for women who have undergone FGM. So I’d had some training through my trust but also from attending study days and through personal experience of working within a large Somali community in South London. Due to the sensitivity of this issue, I needed to remain focused purely on the medical consequences of FGM.
I met with the women in camp first. The group consisted of a wide age range and some traditional birth attendants who traditionally perform the procedure. From research undertaken by the Danish Refugee Council it has been understood that FGM is performed around seven weeks of age. I showed pictures and discussed the complications suffered during the procedure, during adolescence, during sexual intercourse and in labour. The women were very receptive to this and appeared eager for change.
Despite this, a major concern is the marriageability of women without the procedure being done. After attending a debate later that month surrounding FGM it became clear that this concern alone was preventing change from happening in the near future. Despite this, it was positive to see women, men, sheiks and umdas [community leaders] all together to discuss the need to end violence against women.