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BMJ. 1995 Jun 17;310(6994):1592-3.

Female genital mutilation in France.

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  • 1French Family Planning Association, Paris.



The French Family Planning Association first protested to the World Health Organization in 1977 about its continuing silence about the genital mutilation of girls in Africa and the Far East. Though initially based more upon feminist concern for women's rights than upon the association's experience with female genital mutilation, the results of the practice became increasingly real and apparent in mother and child protection centers and family planning clinics as the wives and families of African immigrants arrived in France over the next few years. An estimated 100,000 immigrants live in the Paris region. The first reaction to the increasingly prevalent evidence of prior female genital mutilation was to not intervene in the practices of other cultures. It was only after a long period of raising awareness among health personnel, magistrates, institutes, and the general public that the problem began to be seen as something which needed to be addressed in France. It eventually took the death of two girls in 1982 to bring the issue into the open and force the authorities to take a stand against the practice in France. Health professionals and women attending family planning clinics are taught about female genital mutilation in an effort to prevent its continued practice. Information is also given to immigration candidates through French consulates about general family legislation in France and the prohibition of and punishment for female genital mutilation. Punishment can be from three months upwards in prison with fines. Several cases have come to court since 1982 and sentences have been passed against both fathers and mothers. Prevention kits of posters and leaflets have recently been published and distributed in the Paris area, but they will soon be available throughout France. Moreover, medical and social teams can and do report children at risk or who have suffered female genital mutilation through the normal channels for cases of child abuse.

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