Female genital mutilation: Survey of paediatricians' knowledge, attitudes and practice

Premala Sureshkumar, Yvonne Zurynski, Susan Moloney, Shanti Raman, Nesrin Varol, Elizabeth J. Elliott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The study objective was to determine paediatricians' experience with female genital mutilation (FGM) in Australian children and adolescents. A cross-sectional, pilot-tested national survey of paediatricians practising in Australia and contributing to the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit was conducted. Clinicians' knowledge, attitudes and clinical experience with FGM, awareness of clinical guidelines and education/training needs were recorded. Of 1311 paediatricians surveyed, 497 (38%) responded. Fifty-seven percent were aged 50 years or more, and 51.3% were males. Over half believed that FGM was performed in children in Australia and most were aware of its complications, but few asked about or examined for FGM. Fifty (10.3%) had seen at least one case of FGM in girls aged <18 years during their clinical career, including 16 (3.3%) in the past 5 years. Most were aware that FGM is illegal in Australia (93.9%), agreed all types of FGM were harmful (97.4%) and agreed that FGM violated human rights (98.2%). Most (87.6%) perceived FGM as a traditional cultural practice, although 11.6% thought it was required by religion. The majority (81.8%) knew notification of FGM to child protection authorities was mandatory. Over half (62.0%) were aware of the WHO Statement on FGM, but only 22.0% knew the WHO classification of FGM. These novel data indicate a minority of paediatricians in Australia have clinical experience with or education about FGM. Educational programs, best-practice clinical guidelines and policies are required to address knowledge gaps and help paediatricians identify, manage and prevent FGM in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Female genital mutilation
  • Knowledge and attitudes
  • Medical education
  • Paediatric practice


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