As one of the winner teams of this year’s Bag2thefuture competition, which is part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Making More Health initiative, Operation Future wants to contribute with an app to overcome Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Germany. (See here the video of the project)
The goal is to make a social impact by developing an app aimed to support the NGO’s ongoing effort to address the highly controversial practice of Female Genital Mutilation, also called FGM.
What is FGM?
FGM means cutting off the external female genitals – which can be from the removal of the clitoris to practically everything including the inner and outer labia, usually followed by stitching together nearly the entire genital opening. Worst of all, it is mostly done without anaesthesia and in non-sterile conditions.
The medical consequences include acute complications:
- infections/sepsis (hepatitis, tetanus, abscesses)
- injuries of blood vessels, bladder and urethra
- death (10% according to the WHO)
as well as irreversible health issues (25%):
- chronic pain (during urinating, menstruation, and sexual intercourse)
- recurrent inflammations
- increased risk of infections (above all HIV) and infertility
- formation of cysts, fistulas, and tumours.
FGM also considerably increases the risk of death for young mothers and babies – and last but not least: As type 3 (infibulation) hinders birth and even sexual intercourse, it is undone and redone several times throughout a women’s lifetime.
And in every single case there is a psychic trauma leading above all to a loss of self-confidence and trust, but also to numerous disorders, e.g. insomnia, anxiety, and depression up to suicide.
Why to adress FGM?
More than 130 million girls and women worldwide are suffering from this harmful and traumatic procedure. Globalisation and migration have eased the spread of FGM from its countries of origin to nearly the entire world. FGM has thus arrived on our doorstep, and Germany is among the EU countries with the highest incidence of FGM.
FGM is a violation of human rights (gender equality, physical integrity) and a criminal act. FGM must stop.
FGM goes against BI's ethos, values, and mission to improve health. We want to contribute to stop FGM.
What we learned talking to NGOs already dealing with this topic is that among the major obstacles to overcome FGM are
- missing access to adequate information
- lack of communication between all stakeholders
This leads to misunderstandings and assumptions regarding the reasons and the claim for FGM within the communities practising FGM including their elders - even within one family! And it also applies to
- religious leaders not stating clearly that FGM is not required by ANY religion
- midwives not knowing how to deal with mutilated women during birth
- physicians and nursing staff being unsure how to speak with affected women about necessary measures and consequences
- teachers feeling helpless when learning that girls are/have been exposed to FGM
- social workers unable to break the taboo etc.
- Complexity is high and therefore requires a multilateral approach.
What can be done?
We believe that an app with a tailor-made approach can assist affected communities and stakeholders in Germany by
- providing FGM facts in different languages → translations
- addressing the users appropriately → lay and professional language, audio
- offering guidance → chat bot
- connecting individuals and groups → discussion forum
- providing support → local contacts
- informing about relevant events and trainings → calendar
Even a gradual change in mindset can prevent girls and women from being mutilated and create an acceptance for re-operations in their communities: Every girl, every woman counts!
- More Info
Write us via MEDOperationFuture.DE@boehringer-ingelheim.com