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FGM/C: Implications, effects and relationship with HIV/AIDS*

 *Implications of FGM/C*
FGM/C does irreparable harm. It can result in death through severe bleeding, pain and trauma and overwhelming infections. It is routinely traumatic.
• It has dangerous health implications because of the unsanitary conditions in which it is generally practiced.
• It is a fundamental violation of human rights because it is carried out at a very young age when there is no possibility of the individual consent.
• Mutilated/cut infants, girls and women face irreversible lifelong health risks, among other consequences.

 *Harmful effects of FGM/C include:*
• Failure to heal
• Abscess formation
• Cysts
• Excessive growth of scar tissue
• Urinary tract infection
• Painful sexual intercourse
• Hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases
• Reproductive tract infection
• Pelvic inflammatory diseases
• Infertility
• Painful menstruation
• Chronic urinary tract obstruction/bladder stones
• Obstructed labor
• Increased risk of bleeding and infection during childbirth.

 *FGM/C Increased susceptibility to HIV/AIDS*
The eradication of FGM calls for urgent attention in the context of HIV/AIDS as the use of contaminated instrument in the operation could be an important mode of transmission.
The risks are evidenced from the fact that the operation is mainly carried out by practitioners of traditional medicine and by traditional birth attendants using unsanitary knives and other instruments in generally unhygienic conditions. The transmission of HIV/AIDS is an obvious danger, alongside the usual gynecological and psychological problems associated with the practice.

These multiple risks are compounded in the case of infibulations by the need to cut open the infibulated area for childbirth. Carried out with crude, unsterilised instruments and without anaesthesia, the reopening operation causes intense pain and frequently results in infection and heavy bleeding.
In the worst of cases it can lead to:
(i) the opening of passages between the vagina and bladder or anus, producing Vesico -Vaginal Fistula (VVF), a condition more commonly associated with the results of obstructed labor in early pregnancy but arising also in some cases from the cutting open of infibulated women;
(ii) Recto –Vaginal Fistula (RVF) - where due to age of the pregnant girl –whose pelvis and birth canal are not fully developed, relentless pressure from the baby’s skull damages the birth canal, causing breakage in the wall, allowing uncontrollable leakage from the bladder into vagina or uncontrollable leakage of faeces
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