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Female genital mutilation: the law as it relates to children
  1. Jeremy Weston, QC
  1. St Ives Chambers, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Jeremy Weston, St Ives Chambers, 1-3 Whittall Street, Birmingham B4 6DH, UK; Jeremy.Weston{at}stiveschambers.co.uk

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“FGM is an evil practice internationally condemned and in clear violation of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950. It is a repulsive practice…deleterious to women’s health.” [1]

What is female genital mutilation?

  1. Some potential for confusion might arise with regard to a definition of female genital mutilation (FGM) as there are differences between the WHO definition and that provided by Unicef.

  2. The WHO definition is to be found in “Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation” which was published by the WHO in 2008. Annex 2 defines FGM as:

    Type I: partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy) 

When it is important to distinguish between the major variations of Type mutilation, the following subdivisions are proposed:

  1. Type Ia: removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only;

  2. Type Ib: removal of the clitoris with the prepuce.

Type II: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

When it is important to distinguish between the major variations that have been documented, the following subdivisions are proposed:

  1. Type IIa: removal of the labia minora only;

  2. Type IIb: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora;

  3. Type IIc: partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora.

  4. Type III: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

When it is important to distinguish between the variations in infibulations, the following subdivisions are proposed;

  1. Type IIIa: removal and apposition of the labia minora;

  2. Type IIIb: removal and apposition of the labia majora.

  3. Type IV: unclassified: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for …

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