Female genital mutilation: Australian law, policy and practical challenges for doctors

Med J Aust. 2011 Feb 7;194(3):139-41. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb04197.x.


The issue of whether medical practitioners should perform "ritual nicks" as a method of meeting demand for female genital mutilation (FGM) has recently been debated in the United States and Australia. Due to increasing numbers of people arriving and settling in Australia from African nations in which FGM is customary, demand for FGM in Australia is present and may be increasing. Australian law clearly prohibits performance of any type of FGM. FGM is also prohibited by the most recent policy of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). For legal, medical and social reasons, the RANZCOG policy is sound, and medical practitioners should not administer FGM in any form. Development of an evidence base regarding incidence of and attitudes towards FGM, and the need for post-FGM treatment, would help inform sound policy and practical responses. Strategies adopted in African nations to abolish FGM may assist in refining educational and supportive efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Circumcision, Female / ethics
  • Circumcision, Female / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Circumcision, Female / psychology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • New Zealand