FGM Practices

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Cultural practices that violate human rights and the health status of the individual create ethical dilemmas for nurses. Protecting human rights/ well-beings and respecting/honoring cultural valves is the foundation for nursing. Before reading the chapter on female genital mutilation (FGM) I must admit I knew very little about this practice, how wild spread it is and the physical and psychological scarring it leaves on the individual. After educating myself by researching this topic, I concluded that due to its long term physiological and psychological health consequences that FGM is very similar to forms of torture, in that it seeks to control the mind, body and sexuality, which is a direct infringement on human rights. Those that accept this practice believe that the benefits (enhancing fertility or a religious requirement) out weight the risks (maternal infant morbidity and mortality). For most, customs and beliefs are deeply ingrained and passed on to the next generation. Healthcare conflict arises when cultural value imposes on human rights, for example, the patient who had just given birth to a baby girl confides in the nurse about the need to have daughter secretly circumcised. The right to privacy and confidentiality will be violated to protect the health and well-being of the baby because FGM is considered a form of abuse in the United Stated and nurses are mandated by law to report suspected or actual cases. The health consequences of those that undergo the FGM procedure varies according to the type of procedure performed, ranging from STDs’ to sterility. Nurses are in a position to changing harmful traditional practices by raising awareness/educating communities about the impact that this practice has on the health status and human right issues.

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