Date: February 20, 2019
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EASTERN TIME
Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, MD, MSc, FACOG, IF
Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Founding Director, Refugee Women’s Health Clinic
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. With the passage of the Female Genital Mutilation Act in 1996, performing FGM/C on anyone under age 18 became a felony in the United States. However, recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates (largely based on prevalence of women and girls affected rather than risk) show a marked increase in women and girls affected by and at risk for this practice, given increases in the populations from regions where this is practiced (as much as 400 percent). Women and girls who have experienced FGM/C present with a range of health challenges including gynecological, obstetrical, and psychological—and there are limited evidence-based guidelines (published by WHO in May 2018) to direct their care. Data are limited, and an evidence-directed approach to the management of the many complications of these procedures is sorely needed. The research gaps and challenges will be presented, as well as the needs of this population of women. Despite the federal law passed in 1996, and a 2013 ruling covering “vacation cutting” (i.e., girls returned to their country on school holiday to visit relatives and undergo FGM/C), in a 2018 court ruling in Michigan a federal judge dismissed six of eight charges against a physician who performed FGM/C, stating the 1996 federal law was unconstitutional.
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