Genital Mutilation

Phoenix Clinic Cares for Women with Cut Genitals

Monday, June 6, 2011

Medical care in the United States for women with female genital cutting is lagging and many women don't trust doctors who appear to frown on their condition, say advocates. A specialized clinic in Phoenix provides a culturally sensitive approach.

(WOMENSENEWS)--When a woman who has undergone female genital cutting seeks medical help in many parts of the United States her chances of finding a knowledgeable physician--or talking about her condition--aren't very good.

That's the finding of advocacy group Sauti Yetu Center for African American Women, a nonprofit based in the South Bronx that recently publicized research at a New York conference. They found that few New York clinicians were trained to handle women with the condition and many women felt uncomfortable in their care.

A Phoenix clinic, however, offers a way of doing things differently.

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The Refugee Women's Health Clinic cares for immigrants and takes a culturally sensitive approach to female genital cutting. The clinic provides translators, counseling, education and transportation to the facility. It works with agencies that provide diapers, car seats and food stamps for the mothers.

Crista Johnson, an obstetrician-gynecologist, opened the Refugee Women's Health Clinic in 2008. The clinic, she says, has served nearly 2,000 women from 19 countries. Some of Johnson's patients are going through their second birth with her.

Johnson was in New York in April to join the conference about the often unmet medical needs of women in the United States whose genitals have been cut.

During childbirth, women with cut genitals often need special attention. Some may need defibulation, a procedure to open the scar. Some suffer heavy bleeding, deficiency in amniotic fluid during childbirth and gestational diabetes.

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