Birth records show 19 mothers underwent female genital mutilation in the past

Information tabled in parliament shows that no cases of female genital mutilation were recorded in Malta but 19 women who gave birth had been cut in the past

Female genital mutilation is a traditional harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons
Female genital mutilation is a traditional harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons

Hospital records show that 19 women who gave birth had undergone female genital mutilation in the past but no cases of the horrific procedure were recorded locally.

Female genital mutilation was made illegal in 2014 following a private members’ Bill put forward by now Health Minister Chris Fearne.

Fearne told parliament this week that between January 2015 and December 2019 there were no hospital discharges for which the diagnosis was female genital mutilation.

However, he said that the national obstetrics information system had recorded 19 women who gave birth in the period who had undergone FGM in the past.

Fearne was answering a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Claudette Buttigieg.

A study among migrant communities in Malta published last year by the European Institute for Gender Equality found that most were not aware FGM was a criminal offence.

Although there have been no recorded instances of girls in Malta that were subjected to FGM, the study found that between 39% and 57% of girls originating from FGM-practising countries, were at risk of being sent back by their families to have the procedure carried out.

A large part of the female migrant population in Malta originates from countries with a high occurrence of genital mutilation — Somalia, Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

FGM is a traditional harmful practice that involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. Every year, an estimated three million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation, the majority of whom are cut before they turn 15 years old.  

WHO considers FGM as a violation of rights with no medical justification. The procedure can lead to immediate health risks and long-term complications to women’s physical, mental and sexual health and well-being.   

Under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the world community has set a target to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation by the year 2030.

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