Allow ritual 'nick' to girls' genitalia

US doctors should be allowed to perform a ceremonial pinprick or "nick" on young girls' genitalia in order to keep the girls' families from taking them overseas for full circumcision, says the American Academy of Paediatrics.

US law forbids any non-medical procedure on the genitals of a girl. To get around the law, some parents take their daughters to other countries for what's commonly called female genital mutilation (FGM), The New York Times reported. The practice is common in some African and Asian cultures.

Ritual 'nick'

"It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled paediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm," said a policy statement released last week by the American Academy of Paediatrics' bioethics committee.

The suggestion triggered harsh criticism.

"I am sure the academy had only good intentions, but what their recommendation has done is only create confusion about whether FGM is acceptable in any form, and it is the wrong step forward on how best to protect young women and girls," Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) told The Times. He recently introduced a bill to make it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised.

"FGM serves no medical purpose, and it is rightfully banned in the US," said Georganne Chapin, executive director of an advocacy group called Intact America. She told The Times she was "astonished that a group of intelligent people did not see the utter slippery slope that we put physicians on" with the new AAP policy statement. - (HealthDay News, May 2010)

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