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FGM declining in Finland, school health survey

Saturday June 6, 2020

Eighty out of over 35,000 girls who responded to the survey said they had been subjected to female genital mutilation.

Some 80 girls in Finland reported having undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), according to a school health survey by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

The agency’s 2019 school health survey asked over 35,000 girls in upper secondary and vocational schools about the subject and found that Somali-born girls most often spoke of the practice.

The THL said that this was the first survey to ask teen girls resident in Finland about their experiences with FGM. THL specialist researcher Reija Klemetti said that the results suggest that the practice is declining in Finland.

The THL arrived at its conclusion after comparing the results of the survey to data from Finland’s Register of Births for 2017 and 2018. The register indicates that 0.4 percent or 285 of women who gave birth in those years had been circumcised. Although the register does not include data from the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district due to a change in systems. However Klemetti said the numbers are comparable.

"It seems that [people] are moving away from the tradition, but it has not entirely been given up," she added.

Researcher: Discussion, awareness important

In the survey 135 or 0.4 percent of young women said they could not say whether or not they had undergone FGM.

"This suggests that the tradition is entirely unfamiliar to the students. There may be inaccurate responses in either direction," Klemetti noted.

The researcher said that because of the lack of awareness it is important to encourage discussion of the matter. She said that it should be discussed at health care clinics and by school health professionals as well as at home.

Female genital mutilation generally involves the removal of or circumcision of the external genitals without good medical cause. The tradition is practiced in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia but has also spread further afield.

In the West FGM is considered a form of violence and a grave human rights violation. Finnish law classifies the practices as a criminal offence and also forbids people from taking girls abroad to have the procedure performed.


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