Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM) is a traditional cultural practice that is evident in many countries of the world. But Australia has made the circumcision of girls illegal. And each state (and territory) has its own set of laws to combat the problem.

Recently, at the official launching of the new information kit and poster for the FGM program in South Australia, the Minister of Health, Lea Stevens, spoke eloquently about the “culturally sensitive nature of the (FGM) problem”; emphasizing the need to “educate the community about the phenomenon of female circumcision, its impact and consequences”.

Indeed, her speech was well received by the emerging African community in South Australia. And, more importantly, the educational content of the program is becoming increasingly popular with the migrant population; especially the new arrivals.

Essentially though, the FGM program has two principal aims. The first aim is to assist those women and girls in South Australia who might be at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.

The second aim of the program is to minimize the negative effects of FGM; especially its adverse health outcomes and the psycho-social harm experienced by victims of this age-old practice.

In this case, given the importance of the FGM debate, Australia is light years ahead of most countries in creating public awareness of the problem.

The FGM program in South Australia comes under the community development framework; focusing on capacity building and profound respect for individual rights.

For more on this topic, please read this fascinating book: The Africans in Australia, Seaview Press.
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