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A Journal on Forensic Medicine
Minerva Medicolegale 2009 June;129(2):77-84
Female genital mutilation: evolution or involution?
Medicina Legale, Università degli Studi di Brescia Spedali Civili di Brescia, Brescia, Italia
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and hence interferes with the natural function of girls’ and women’s bodies. The practice causes severe pain and has several immediate and long-term health consequences, including difficulties in childbirth also causing dangers to the child. The Italian Parliament passed a law prohibiting FGM, which has put in place a set of measures to prevent, oppose and suppress the practice of FGM as a violation of a person’s fundamental rights to physical and mental integrity and to the health of women and girls. The Italian law not only treats new offences but also wants to deal with the problem in its total, providing important intervention in all the sectors. Different kinds of interventions are considered, starting with the development of informative campaigns, training of health workers, institution of a tollfree number, international cooperation programs and the responsibility of the institution where the crime is committed. Particularly, the law recognises that doctors have a role in eliminating FGM by educating patients and communities. Italy’s 2006 Consolo Law makes it a crime for parents and for doctors.