NGOs Demand Guidelines to Prevent Female Circumcision

Several groups are demanding that Finland introduce a national action plan to stamp out female circumcision. Authorities believe that some girls living in Finland have been subjected to the procedure. While the official stance is that female circumcisions are not performed in Finland, several authorities now say girls of immigrant backgrounds may be sent to Africa, or their parents' home country, to undergo circumcision. "We've received tips that circumcisions are performed abroad, but unfortunately the information we have is loose and we've been unable to launch a pre-trial investigation," says Kari Tolvanen of the Helsinki Police Violent Crimes Unit. NGOs are calling on the government to adopt a national circumcision prevention programme in Finland. Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands all have national programmes in place that aim to prevent the practice. Several groups are to hand over an appeal on the matter to Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko on Thursday. Risikko says she promises to carefully consider whether Finland needs to adopt a programme to support current legislation that outlaws female genital mutilation. "We don't have the readiness to meet the needs of these girls and young women. Multiculturalism and the ability to meet the needs of other cultures must be an integral part of healthcare workers' curricula," says Risikko. Since the beginning of the year, health officials have been legally bound to report cases of female genital mutilation to police. An Old African Tradition

Female circumcision is heavily performed throughout Africa, some Arab states as well as in Indonesia. The culturally motivated procedure is performed on the majority of girls in Somalia.

Female circumcision entails partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, often without anaesthesia. The procedure can lead to infections, bleeding and even death.