For women who were circumcised, There is hope, there is restoration. There is new hope for the hundreds of millions of women worldwide who have been subjected to genital mutilation.
A surgeon in Penn Medicine’s Center for Human Appearance has developed a
reconstructive procedure that can increase sexual function and, patients’ early experiences suggest, help heal the emotional and psychological wounds associated with the mutilation. Ivona Percec, an assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Plastic Surgery, reports on her use of the technique in three patients this month in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. She also calls for greater awareness of this human rights issue in support of women who’ve suffered these experiences across the world.
“Plastic surgeons have a crucial role to play in this recovery, and it’s important for physicians to be informed and prepared to address the surgical and emotional needs of women who seek care for this,” Percec said. “Our procedure is simple yet effective and can help victims restore their physical and psychological sense of well-being.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as, “any procedure that intentionally alters or causes injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons and with no health benefits.” An estimated 200 million women have been subjected to FGM around the world, usually between the first week of life and adolescence, and often by their caregivers. It is a cultural ritual in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to encourage female sexual fidelity. It is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights.
FGM can also have long-term consequences, including severe pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, cysts, recurrent infections, and even death.
All three women were between the ages of 30 and 33 and had recently immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone. In each case, the women were married but had not told their husbands they had undergone FGM as children.