Hospital Clínic provides 30 women with clitoral reconstruction surgery
Barcelona medical center acknowledges difficulty reaching out to survivors ahead of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation
Barcelona's Hospital Clínic has performed clitoral reconstruction surgery on 30 women over the past four years, as announced at a press conference a day ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on Thursday.
The public medical center acknowledged the difficulties faced when reaching out to women affected by FGM, although it did note an increase in procedures carried out last year – 13 in total – due to heightened outreach efforts.
Mariona Rius, one of the center's gynecologists, believes there could be some 18,000 women residing in Catalonia who are female circumcision survivors, but says it is hard to establish exactly how many there are given the silence and shame surrounding the condition.
"We are have done a lot of outreach work and at primary health care centers, training trainers so they can reach these communities on the one hand to prevent future instances of female genital mutilation of girls, and on the other, to let women know about this medical unit," explains Rius.
While FGM can have long-lasting physical and psychological repercussions, the surgery itself is relatively simple as it lasts not much than half an hour and requires, at most, a day-long hospital stay.
"I would tell women like me, the victims who have this problem, to not be afraid. There is no problem because it can be solved," said Khadijetou Sow, one of the two women who have already had the procedure done this year.
Foundation provides procedure free of cost
Alongside the top public hospital, the Barcelona-based Dexeus Women's Health Foundation also performs clitoral reconstruction free of cost for survivors residing in Spain and since 2007 has carried out 105 of these operations.
The average age of women who have received this treatment at the private center is 28 and 65% of them live in Catalonia while the rest of them live in other parts of Spain.
As for country of origin, 23% were born in Spain, 24% in Senegal, 10% in Mali, and 10% in the Gambia, with the remaining mainly hailing from other African countries.