Preferences for deinfibulation (opening) surgery and female genital mutilation service provision: a qualitative study

Laura L. Jones*, Benjamin D. Costello, Emma Danks, Kate Jolly, Fiona Cross‐Sudworth, Alison Byrne, Meg Fassam‐Wright, Pallavi Latthe, Joanne Clarke, Ayan Adbi, Hodo Abdi, Hibaq Abdi, Julie Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the views of female genital mutilation (FGM) survivors, men and healthcare professionals (HCPs) on the timing of deinfibulation surgery and NHS service provision.

Design: Qualitative study informed by the sound of silence framework.

Setting: Survivors and men were recruited from three FGM prevalent areas of England. HCPs and stakeholders were from across the UK.

Sample: Forty-four survivors, 13 men and 44 HCPs. Ten participants at two community workshops and 30 stakeholders at a national workshop.

Methods: Hybrid framework analysis of 101 interviews and three workshops.

Results: There was no consensus across groups on the optimal timing of deinfibulation for survivors who wished to be deinfibulated. Within group, survivors expressed a preference for deinfibulation pre-pregnancy and HCPs antenatal deinfibulation. There was no consensus for men. Participants reported that deinfibulation should take place in a hospital setting and be undertaken by a suitable HCP. Decision making around deinfibulation was complex but for those who underwent surgery it helped to mitigate FGM impacts. Although there were examples of good practice, in general, FGM service provision was suboptimal.

Conclusion: Deinfibulation services need to be widely advertised. Information should highlight that the procedure can be carried out at different time points, according to preference, and in a hospital by suitable HCPs. Future services should ideally be developed with survivors, to ensure that they are clinically and culturally appropriate. Guidelines would benefit from being updated to reflect the needs of survivors and to ensure consistency in provision.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Early online date26 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • deinfibulation
  • female circumcision
  • female genital cutting
  • female genital mutilation
  • qualitative research
  • sound of silence

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