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New York, New York, UNICEF, 2005 Nov.  p.FGM/C is a fundamental violation of human rights. In the absence of any perceived medical necessity, it subjects girls and women to health risks and has life-threatening consequences. Among those rights violated are the right to the highest attainable standard of health and to bodily integrity. Furthermore, it could be argued that girls (under 18) cannot be said to give informed consent to such a potentially damaging practice as FGM/C. FGM/C is, further, an extreme example of discrimination based on sex. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women defines discrimination as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field." Used as a way to control women's sexuality, FGM/C is a main manifestation of gender inequality and discrimination "related to the historical suppression and subjugation of women," denying girls and women the full enjoyment of their rights and liberties. (excerpt)
ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. 1991; 626:1-10.WHO defines reproductive health as people having the ability to reproduce, to regulate fertility, and to practice and enjoy sexual relationships. It also means safe pregnancy, child birth, contraceptives, and sex. Procreation should include a successful outcome as indicated by infant and child survival, growth, and healthy development. 60-80 million infertile couples live in the world. Core infertility, i.e., unpreventable and untreatable infertility, ranges from 3% to 5%. Sexually transmitted diseases, aseptic abortion, or puerperal infection are common causes of acquired infertility. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of acquired infertility. In 1983, the world contraceptive use rate stood at 51% with the developed countries having the highest rate (70%) and Africa the lowest rate (14%). About 40 countries in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula practice female circumcision. The percent of low birth weight infants is greater in developing countries than in developed countries (17% vs. 6.8%). Intrauterine growth retardation is responsible for most low birth weight infants in developing countries while in developed countries it is premature birth. About 15 million infants and children die each year. Maternal mortality risk is highest in developing countries especially those in Africa (1:21) and lowest in developed countries (1:9850). Sexually transmitted diseases continue to be a major problem in the world especially in developing countries. Chlamydia afflicts 50 million people each year. The proportion of women with AIDS is growing so that between the 1980s and 1990s it will grow between 25% and 50%. More available contraceptive choices enhance safety in fertility regulation. Socioeconomic conditions that determine reproductive health are poverty, literacy, and women's status. Sexual behavior, reproductive behavior, breast feeding, and smoking are life style determinants of reproductive health. Availability, utilization, and efficiency of health care services and level of medical knowledge also determine women's reproductive health.
Lexington, Massachusetts, Women's International Network News, 1982 Nov. 338 p.This report documents the existence and prevalence in Africa and in other regions of the world of the cultural practice of female circumcision and genital mutilation (FC/GM). This serious problem is examined so that it can be abolished. Until recently the problem was hidden from the public, and most health, government and international agency officials denied that the practices were widespread. In 1979 at a World Health Organization (WHO) seminar on traditional health practices, the problem received international attention. Recommendations made by the seminar participants urged nations to adopt policies to abolish FC/GM, to establish commissions to coordinate activities aimed at abolishing the practices, and to intensify efforts to educate the public and health professionals about the problem. In 1984 it was estimated that 79.97 million women in Africa had FC/GM operations performed at some time during their life. The proportion of women who have had FC/GM operations was almost 100% in Somalia, 90% in Ethiopia, 80% in Sudan, Mali, and Sierra Leone, and 60% in Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Gambia. Information is provided on 1) the extent of the practices, 2) the health problems associated with FC/GM, 3) the 1979 WHO seminar, 4) the history of FC/GM, and 5) the cultural beliefs supporting the practices. Case histories provide detailed information on the practices in 11 African countries, 4 countries on the Arab Pennisula, and 2 Asian countries, including Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Upper Volta, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The existence of FC/GM practices in many other countries, including Western nations, is also documented. These practices are also discussed in reference to the depressed status of women in many African countries, and the role of women in these countries is examined in regard to legal matters, education, employment, agriculture, family planning, development, and urbanization. Political factors hindering the abolition of the practices and the hesitancy of international agencies such as WHO, US Agency for International Development, and the UN Children's Fund, to deal with the problem are discussed. There is some evidence that FC/GM operations are being conducted in hospitals in a number of African countries, and efforts must be made to prohibit the introduction of these practices into the modern health care system. Suggestions are provided for action and education programs aimed at abolishing FC/GM practices. An annotated bibliograpy, containing 78 references, is also provided.