Focus on Female Genital Mutilation
UCD Breakout Research on "Human Rights in Focus" took place on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 in the Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire. Dr Cliona McGovern presented on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Northern Kenya and spoke about learning points for the medical profession in Ireland.
The aim of this research is to learn from very different cultures in order to assist medical practitioners in Ireland to help patients who have undergone FGM. More than 200 million women and girls worldwide have undergone FGM and last year, the WHO issued guidelines on the management of health complications arising from FGM.
In Northern Kenya, a remote nomadic tribe called the Pokot, manages to exist in an extremely hot and dry climate where daily temperatures reach well over 40 Celsius, sometimes reaching 60. Cut off from everywhere, with no roads apart from what they build themselves, the Pokot live extraordinary lives. Many of their customs and practices are wholly alien to us in a western society, and FGM in particular has been designated a human rights violation. FGM is normal in the Pokot culture and almost 100% of girls will have undergone it. It is seen as a rite of passage and a badge of honour. In repeatedly visiting this area, Dr McGovern listened and learned about the purpose of FGM.
Furthermore, there are many women and girls in Ireland (from refugee and immigrant cultures) who have undergone FGM to varying degrees. In understanding the cultures from which these women and girls have come, the medical profession here will be better able to support and care for patients who are now in a western society that has no experience or understanding of this ritual.