Call for GPs to be educated on genital mutilation
Irish GPs do not know how to recognise types of female genital mutilation or where to refer victims for care, a survey has shown.The survey, commissioned by migrant women's rights group AkiDwA, sought to establish if migrant women living in Ireland who are victims of female genital mutilation are receiving the appropriate care.
Most common in western and eastern Africa, female genital mutilation includes the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or injury to female organs for non-medical reasons. Practised for cultural or social reasons, it is typically inflicted on girls between the ages of four and 10.
AkiDwA, whose name comes from a Swahili word meaning sisterhood, estimates that more than 3,170 migrant women living in Ireland are victims of the practice.
In the survey, 218 questionnaires were sent to randomly selected GPs around Ireland, 64 of whom responded. Of these, while 98 per cent had heard of female genital mutilation, 79 per cent did not know how to identify different types of mutilation and 65 per cent of GPs said they were unable to identify its symptoms.
Side effects include chronic urinary and menstrual problems, pelvic inflammatory disease, difficulties in childbirth and psychological trauma.
Some 19 per cent of GPs had met victims of genital mutilation in their clinics. All GPs who responded said they would not know where to refer victims for support.
The results of the survey, conducted over the past three months, were released yesterday to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.
AkiDwA chief executive Salome Mbugua said GPs needed education on the issue. "The results of the survey indicate that a lot of awareness is needed at all levels."