Female Genital Mutilation: The Ethical Impact of the New Italian Law
Journal of Medical Ethics 2007 February; 33(2): 98-101
Despite global and local attempts to end female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice persists in some parts of the world and has spread to non-traditional countries through immigration. FGM is of varying degrees of invasiveness, but all forms raise health-related concerns that can be of considerable physical or psychological severity. FGM is becoming increasingly prohibited by law, both in countries where it is traditionally practised and in countries of immigration. Medical practice prohibits FGM. The Italian parliament passed a law prohibiting FGM, which has put in place a set of measures to prevent, to oppose and to suppress the practice of FGM as a violation of a person's fundamental rights to physical and mental integrity and to the health of women and girls. The Italian law not only treats new offences but also wants to deal with the problem in its entirety, providing important intervention in all the sectors. Different kinds of interventions are considered, starting with the development of informative campaigns, training of health workers, institution of a tollfree number, international cooperation programmes and the responsibility of the institution where the crime is committed. Particularly, the law recognises that doctors have a role in eliminating FGM by educating patients and communities.
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