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"Circumcision", culture, and health-care provision in Tower Hamlets, London.

Authors
  • Cameron, J
  • Anderson, K R
Type
Published Article
Journal
Gender and development
Publication Date
Nov 01, 1998
Volume
6
Issue
3
Pages
48–54
Identifiers
PMID: 12294412
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Tower Hamlets (London, England) has a sizable Somali community whose members maintain close links with their families in Africa. The London Black Women's Health Action Project (LBWAP) was established in Tower Hamlets, in 1982, to address the health needs of Somali women, especially those related to female circumcision. The major focus in the UK has been on protecting girls from undergoing this practice, with little attention to the needs of women who have already been circumcised. Of 200 Somali women interviewed by LBWAP, 61% had been infibulated in their native country by people with no medical training. Among the long-term health consequences were dysmenorrhea, recurrent urinary problems, urethral damage, and painful intercourse. Although deinfibulation can be obtained, both health care professionals and circumcised women tend to be unaware of this service. LBWAP has proposed a study to assess the expressed health care needs of circumcised Somali women and match these desires with actual health care provision. To raise the consciousness of British health care professionals, parallels between female circumcision and the indiscriminate, unnecessary use of episiotomy are being made.

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