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AFRO-NETS> GENITAL MUTILATION: Aid Group Caught in Controversy
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> GENITAL MUTILATION: Aid Group Caught in Controversy
- From: Dieter Neuvians MD <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 12:51:06 -0400 (EDT)
GENITAL MUTILATION: Aid Group Caught in Controversy
The international medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontiers
said its workers have provided surgical equipment for female
circumcision, but claimed it does not support the procedure.
MSF said providing clean instruments is considered a "first aid
response", since female genital mutilation can result in infec-
tions and cause "horrific complications" in childbirth and in-
"It takes place and we have to be pragmatic," a spokesperson
said. "In some cases our volunteers would prefer to see it hap-
pen in sanitary conditions with clean and sharp implements,
rather than a traditional, rusty knife. If they decide it is
better to offer clean instruments, we support them. However,
this an individual's decision, and this does not reflect MSF
But a spokesperson for the World Health Organization criticized
MSF's actions. WHO's Gregory Hartl: "The practice is a major
human rights violation, and we refuse to see the medicalization
of something that is wholly unnecessary. We should not tolerate
this practice even under sterile conditions. It is utterly bar-
Nahid Toubia, president of a group that campaigns for the
health and rights of African women: "I understand the immediate
dilemma of field workers ... but people in the communities
might think Westerners are endorsing their tradition, when we
should be campaigning against it."
Each year millions of girls worldwide undergo circumcision
(Nicole Veash, London Observer, 22 Aug).
Editorial Urges End To Practice
An editorial in the Kampala New Vision calls the continued
practice of female circumcision "a dreadful blot on the image
of Uganda abroad." The newspaper praises local officials in one
district who have launched a campaign to end the practice (21
Last week 29-year-old Adelaide Abankwah was granted political
asylum by US immigration authorities because she feared genital
mutilation if she returned to Ghana (UN Wire, 18 Aug).
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