Background: Female genital mutilation or cutting comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the female external genitalia and or injury to the female genital organs. The practice is most common in 30 countries in the Western, Eastern, and North-eastern regions of Africa, and in selected countries the Middle East and Asia. With increased migration from such countries, health professionals in destination countries. are confronted with the challenge of caring for women and girls subjected to it and mounting responses to inhibit its practice. Female genital mutilation is therefore a global concern, with international human rights treaties condemning the practice as a gross violation of fundamental human rights of girls and women.
Methods: In early 2014, a review of research, news articles and other gray literature sources was undertaken to identify any information pertaining to the practice of female genital mutilation in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s domestic legal and policy frameworks in reference to female genital mutilation were also looked at. This work was prompted by the personal account of a professional colleague who courageously revealed her experience and that of her daughters of female genital mutilation.
Conclusions: With the paucity of data, a carefully constructed research agenda through a multidisciplinary group of experts (for instance, from backgrounds in anthropology, religious studies, forensic medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology) is needed to explore female genital mutilation in Sri Lanka and ways to effectively implement programs encompassing community-based prevention to supporting women living with female genital mutilation. Meaningful engagement with relevant community leaders and religious authorities are essential. An evidence-based and cultural sensitive approach is needed before undertaking any invention or advocacy measures. Evidence from other countries have shown that efforts to curb female genital mutilation relies on the strength of community advocates, legal experts, researchers, clinicians and administrators working at local, regional and national levels. Such collective action is important to catalyze an enabling environment to inhibit the practice.
IOM Contributor: Kolitha Wickramage (Manila)