British doctors must protect girls from ethnic minorities against genital mutilation, particularly young women from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, the British Medical Association (BMA) said on Monday. The BMA’s head of ethics, Professor Vivienne Nathanson, said in a statement that female genital mutilation “is a practice that causes girls and women serious health and psychological problems”, Reuters said on 20 August. With the dispersal of asylum seekers across the country, the BMA said it was essential for doctors to explain that the practice is illegal and that parents insisting on carrying it out may be restrained by the authorities. If a doctor feared a girl might be taken abroad, it might be necessary to initiate child protection proceedings, the BMA said. It also warned that reinfibulation after childbirth must be rejected. Genital mutilation involves partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia for cultural reasons.
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