Dr Comfort Momoh MBE
FGM-Consultant / Public Health Specialist
Setting the scene
- “I realised that my thighs has been pulled wide apart, and that each of my lower limbs were being held as far away from each other as possible, gripped by steel fingers that never relinquished their pressure. I felt that the rasping knife Or blade was heading straight down towards my throat.
Then suddenly, the sharp knife metallic edge seem to drop between my thighs and these, cut a piece of flesh from my body. I screamed with pain despite the tight hand held over my mouth, for the pain was not just a pain, it was like a searing flame through the whole of my body” (Davis A.Y.Women, Culture and Politics 1984)
FGM: International Level
- FGM is abuse, a health and Human Right issue for girls and women.
- UN General Assembly resolution on the elimination of FGM in December 2012 is an important step in effecting global efforts to tackle FGM.
- UN Commission on the status of women March 2013.
UK and Europe
- The European Parliament estimated that 500,000 women and girls.
- 180,000 are at risk each year in EU countries.
- The European Union and its Member States, have also committed to act against this for of violence.
- UK – 20,000 at risk and 66,000 affected.
Current activities in UK
- Lots of media coverage and interest.
- Government pledged £35million to prevent FGM, through education and by challenging culture. Community engagement.
- More Clinics to support women and girls.
- Young people speak out.
- Europe wide campaign.
- Home Office Forum/meetings.
- High Profile meetings – CPS, NSPCC, Mayor’s office.
Statement Opposing FGM
- In November 2012 HM Government launched a one year pilot of the cross government declaration against FGM.
- ‘Health Passport’ a pocket-sized and it states the law and the potential criminal penalties that can be used against those allowing FGM to take place-pilot for a year.
- Multi-agency approach.
- Religious and community leaders.
- Working and reaching out to families.
- Advocacy – NGO/agency.
- Training all professionals.
- As part of core-curriculum for all.
- Legal framework.
- DoH and Health services.
- Prevention – Challenge attitudes.
- Identification –Training and key indicators.
- Key services – Clearer pathways for professionals.
- Information Sharing – Greater clarity on protocols and guidelines.
- Workforce – National and International lead on FGM.
The African Well Woman’s Clinic
- The clinic provides support, information and advice to women/girls who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation. We also provide a one stop clinic for surgical reversal of FGM.
- For more information and referrals please call Dr Comfort Momoh (MBE) FGM Specialist on 02071886872 or 07956542576 or page her on 08700555500 Code:881018 / Fax 02071880670 / Email : Comfort Momoh
- Also provide training, conference and seminars for all professionals world-wide.
- Established in 1997.
- Sees about 350 women and girls every year.
- Average of 1-2 de-infibulation per week.
- Research looking at sexual quality of life.
- GP Survey 2013 – shows lack of knowledge.
The African Well Woman’s Clinic
Dear Comfort, This is the lady who you operated on the 25th of March. I just wanted to say thank you for fitting me in, and that even though everything look rather odd down there, all is well and healed.
Please pass my sincere thanks to your assistant Esther for holding my hand during the operation, and making the procedure more bearable. I have a final favour to ask, I am in a brand new relationship and would like to be able to communicate the fact that I had FGM at a young age and the impact it can have on one’s sex life.
- Established a Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Girls which looks at FGM
- Appointed a cross government FGM coordinator: objectives to include development of a publicity campaign, drafting of a multi agency.
- Guidelines and training resources/dissemination
- Cross-government work to address FGM
- The health care system must support staff to work in partnership with a range of agencies in order to provide a holistic, culturally sensitive response to the needs of women and girls.
Healthcare Information for All by 2015
- As health care practitioners, if we are truly concerned about the potential adverse effects of this cultural practice, I think it would be more responsible and ethical to promote and facilitate the safe practice of the procedure rather than to insert ourselves into a debate in which we have no rightful business.
Note: the above statement is an example of one person’s personal view
Take Home Message
- Working in partnership to safeguard girls/women.
- Reaching out to different groups
- Look for indicators.
- Think about other children and the family.
- Make referrals where necessary.
- Needs more political commitments.
- More research.
- There’s still lots to do and there is much good practice for us to draw on.
- A joined up, multi agency approach is crucial.
Let us work together to change long held attitude and mindset.
Be the change you want to see in the World.