We won’t eradicate FGM if we keep misunderstanding its history (Opinion)

by Sada Mire, The Guardian, Mon 9 Mar 2020

FGM researcher says midwives are the frontline of Australia’s fight against the practice

ABC Radio Sydney, 6/2/2020

For Western Sydney University researcher Olayide Ogunsiji, female genital mutilation was so prevalent where she grew up in Nigeria, her own cutting was never questioned. When her daughter was born, there was every chance her child would have also undergone the traumatic practice if not for the education Dr Ogunsiji received in antenatal care. 

Key points:

  • Female genital mutilation/cutting refers to procedures that removed or injured female genital organs for non-medical reasons
  • The practice is illegal in Australia but roughly 53,000 women have been living with female genital mutilation in Australia
  • Antenatal clinics were often on the frontline of helping these women, but one expert said staff needed more specialised training to be better equipped in dealing with these patients

Female genital cutting (FGC) & cervical screening: A guide for practitioners

CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA & WOMEN’S HEALTH WEST FARREP
PROGRAM, First published 2017

The World Health Organization defines female genital cutting (FGC) as ‘all procedures that include partial or total removal of female genital organs or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.

‘Female genital mutilation’ is the term used in Australian and Victorian legislation, but the preferred way to refer to the practice using culturally sensitive language is ‘female circumcision’ or ‘traditional cutting’. The age at which this occurs varies from infancy to 15 years.

The practice is referred to as FGC throughout this document.

This 2-page guideline document includes facts about prevalance, type, appropriate questioning, examination technique, and more.

 

Cultural Safety workshops with Khadija Gbla (free event)

Morella Community Centre in collaboration with Khadija Gbla, October 2019

WHAT IS CULTURAL SAFETY?

Cultural safety is identified as “an environment that is safe for people: where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience, of learning, living and working together with dignity and truly listening”.

Culturally safe practices include actions which recognize and respect the cultural identities of others and safely meet their needs, expectations and rights. Alternatively, culturally unsafe practices are those that “diminish, demean or disempower the cultural identity and well-being of an individual”.

Through these workshops, participants will develop an understanding of cultural safety and how to apply cultural safety principles into their work and personal life.

WORKSHOP TOPICS:
SESSION 1: Friday 8th November – Introduction to Cultural Safety
SESSION 2: Friday 22nd November – Cultural Safety, an Educational context*
*This session is aimed for anyone working in an education setting
SESSION 3: Friday 6th December – Cultural Safety for Service Providers

TIME: 10am -11:30am for all workshop topics.

LOCATION: MORELLA COMMUNITY CENTRE
90 Kings Road, Parafield Gardens SA 5107

COST: Free

FACILITATOR: Khadija Gbla is a very passionate and inspiring African-Australian woman. She is an award-winning human rights activist, leader and inspirational speaker.
Khadija Gbla was born in Sierra Leone, spent her youth in Gambia, and as a teenager put down roots in Australia. Khadija was just 3 years old when the war broke out in her country, Sierra Leone and 10 years later they attained refugee status and resettled in Adelaide.
Khadija continues to provide advocacy, training, speaking on domestic and family violence, child protection, racism, human rights, refugees and cultural diversity through her cultural consultancy. She is the co-founder of The Desert Flower Centre and foundation Australia. The Desert Flower Australia is the first centre in Australia and the Asia pacific region that specialises in providing medical care and reconstructive surgery for women impacted by female genital mutilation. Khadija is a TEDX speaker with close to 2 million views on her talk, “My mother’s strange definition of empowerment”. She has represented Australia in the international arena at the Harvard National Model United Nations, Commonwealth Youth Forum and Australian and African Dialogue, Commonwealth heads of states Women’s forum etc. she has displayed great courage and determination in achieving her aspiration of giving women, youth and minority groups a voice at local, state and international level.

Preventing sexual violence against young women from African backgrounds

Prof. Donna Chung, Prof. Colleen Fisher, Dr. Carole Zufferey & Dr. Ravi K Thiara
Australian Institute of Criminology
Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice No. 540, June 2018

This study explored how young women from African refugee and migrant backgrounds understand and experience sexual coercion and violence.

Data was gathered from young women from African backgrounds and a wide range of agencies in two Australian states, Western Australia and South Australia, to better understand the extent of their awareness of and concern about sexual coercion and assault and document how agencies respond to these issues.

The paper concludes it is necessary to improve policy, practice, professional development and training to better respond to the sexual violence experienced by these young women, and raise awareness of the issue in their communities in a culturally sensitive way.

Exploring HIV risks, testing and prevention among sub-Saharan African community members in Australia

International Journal for Equity in Health, 2018, 17:62

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-018-0772-6

Abstract

Background

Significant health disparities persist regarding new and late HIV diagnoses among sub-Saharan African (SSA) communities in Australia. Personal/cultural beliefs and practices influence HIV (risk, prevention, testing) within Australia and during visits to home countries.

Method

A community forum was conducted involving 23 male and female adult African community workers, members and leaders, and health workers; facilitated by cultural workers and an experienced clinician/researcher. The forum comprised small/large group discussions regarding HIV risk/prevention (responses transcribed verbatim; utilising thematic analysis).

Results

Stigma, denial, social norms, tradition and culture permeated perceptions/beliefs regarding HIV testing, prevention and transmission among African Australians, particularly regarding return travel to home countries.

Conclusions

International travel as a risk factor for HIV acquisition requires further examination, as does the role of the doctor in HIV testing and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Further assessment of PrEP as an appropriate/feasible intervention is needed, with careful attention regarding negative community perceptions and potential impacts.