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In my job, I work closely with midwives and obstetricians and so had heard about this from them. But today I read this article in the London Evening Standard. Apparently, here in the UK, a woman with genital piercings is now classed as being a victim of female genital mutilation. Even if she herself chose to have that piercing. In turn the piercer is conducting a criminal act.

Am I missing something here?

My understanding is that female genital mutilation (FGM) is the removal of all or part of the external genital organs of a woman (or girl). Prevalent in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, it is often carried out during childhood, perhaps before age 5. This is about gender power and equality and the way in which girls and women are viewed in some societies. While it might be about power, it is not about consent.

In London, where I work the population of women from Africa, in particular has grown greatly over the past few years. In some London Boroughs women from Africa, the Middle East and Asia outnumber women from Europe, including the UK. This problem is prominent and quite rightly the government, through the health service is trying to help. It wants to identify those affected and those at risk.

Maybe wearing a bar in your clitoral hood is a sign of abuse somewhere, but not here.

I don’t want to think I can’t go for a cervical smear because someone is going to suggest that I am a victim of FGM. I might want to have other piercings and I don’t want to have to go abroad for them because everyone here is refusing to perform them for fear of prosecution.

My piercing might now be a sign of my slavery to Master. But I was the one who decided I wanted it done and I was the one who consented to it. I am no victim and the person who pierced me was no criminal.


4 thoughts on “Criminalised?”

  1. It smacks of sexism – do male genital piercings not matter then? Piercings are reversible, FGM is most definitely not. Why waste time and money enforcing this when the money could be better spent helping those women and girls who don't want to be mutilated, especially educating the communities who still practise FGM.

  2. Its quite clear that there wasn't a wide consultation process happening in this instance.
    It might pay to review the legislation or is it just a health service policy that has been written without reference to cultural parameters etc.
    I dare say that your smear will not raise an eyebrow around the issue of FGM, as i suspect that any legislation has been written to avoid questions of race ..raising the wrath of the woman opposed to the sexist discourse is a much safer bet than raising the ire of the racist conversationalist.

  3. I don't think there has been any consolation, but there is an expectation that health professionals assess against a checklist and report accordingly. Genital piercings are part of that report and would be recorded on a woman / girl's notes. I suspect this is a tick box exercise and no thought has been given to the wider implications. I am afraid this is indicative of the country I live in right now 🙁

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