In London this week, it has been proposed that teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and the like will be required to report all cases of female genital mutilation, within a month of discovery, that occur under age 18, whether discovered or reported by the victim. This legislation comes after FGM was made a criminal offense in 1985, and following legislation in 2003, which made the maximum prison sentence fourteen years, and made female genital mutilation illegal whether carried out in the homeland or sought abroad.
This proposed law comes about after a case earlier this month, when attention was brought to FGM after the way a physician stitched a woman after giving birth. This has caused uproar in the medical community, because practicing physician's claim they will now be afraid to treat and help women already affected by female genital mutilation for fear of being made out to be the scapegoat. However, Mary Wandia, who is the Female Genital Mutilation program manager at the women's rights organization Equality Now, assures us that it's not about sending those at fault to prison, it's about getting help for the women affected.
What's most important about this law is seeking help for the girls who have been affected or are at risk. As of now, it almost seems as if there's a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. However, enacting the law would provide justice for those who deserve it most. The sooner the law goes into effect, then open treatment and prevention for these girls can be sought. Early detection and prevention can lead to early treatment of infections as a result of this debilitating procedure, and maybe, if early enough detection occurs, we could eventually reverse the damage done, with the aid of plastic surgery; not for cosmetic purposes, but to better the lives of these women - to aid with successful natural births and reducing the risk of maternal death, aiding in menstruation, and providing counseling for the psychological effects the procedure has on it's victims.