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This report is about preventing female circumcision, which is evidently rampant amongst immigrant communities in Australia. These are different communities which originally hail from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. They practice female circumcision as part of their tradition and religion. Female genital mutilation affects girls and women from various immigrant populations in Australia. Estimates of women living in Australia from countries where forms of female genital mutilation is practiced passed the 87,000 mark recently. The main purpose of FGM is to reduce a woman's sexual desire to have sex and to make sure that she maintains her virginity till marriage. Some of these immigrants usually send their daughters back to their home countries to have FGM. More often, health problems do arise from FGM. Some of these problems include bladder infections, menstrual pain and difficulty in urination, kidney infections and sexual problems. FGM in these communities is mostly performed when girls are young. They face a lot of pain due to the fact that they are usually conscious when it is being performed on them. FGM is a traditional practice affecting the lives of girls and adult women. It usually involves a number of procedures: the cutting out of the prepuce; partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia; or narrowing and stitching of the vaginal orifice. This report examines what the Australian health professionals should do so as to be culturally competent and provide culturally competent services within the Australian health care system. The report also aims at understanding the immigrant cultural behaviors. It covers only the immigrant Australian population which practices female circumcision. In addition, the report explains the reasons why these communities still practice FGM to date, their health concerns and how to go about helping them with their traditions. It also seeks to explain how the rest of the Australian Population can understand these traditions and how it can treat those who have already undergone FGM as well as trying to prevent others from going through the same. The report does not cover FGM which takes place in other parts of the world. The major limitation of this report is that not all the information is gathered due to the fact that some of these communities are strict and would bedevil women who come out to speak against FGM or advocate against it.
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This report covers standards developed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council established in 1992 for nurses to obtain and maintain license. The aims of the standards were to ensure that nurses have adequate knowledge and are competent enough in their profession (Swensen 2006). Nurses are required to provide health care to patients under stipulated direction and supervision on if they are registered. They must also understand and adhere to all the laws related to nursing as well as code of ethics and regulations put out by the hospitals they work in. As they provide care to the immigrant communities who practice circumcision, nurses should provide care in a manner which doe not discriminate individuals based upon religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, medical condition or cultural background. Health professional should possess knowledge, skills and attitudes so as to become culturally competent practitioners. As such, they are required to provide culturally competent services within the Australian health care system. These attributes are very important because they will contribute a lot in this report so as to better the health of the immigrant population of people who practice female circumcision.
This report also covers the purpose of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC) whose main goal according to Narulla (2007) is to foster high quality of nursing and midwifery practice as well as to assist nurse and midwifery regulatory bodies to accomplish national consistency. By the year 1997, Australia had outlawed female circumcision for the reason of culture, custom, religion and practice. Nevertheless, there has been a rise in the practice of FGM, illegally, due to the growing number of immigrants from different regions such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It is imperative to note that as much as the Australian health professionals want to stop circumcision, they should also seek to maintain patient rights. They should respect values and spiritual beliefs of the patients. Some people in the medical field feel that there is a need to introduce a minor form of legal circumcision which will protect young girls from being circumcised by non-professionals in bizarre conditions. Nurses should provide comfort needs to their patients while at the same time educate them on their health and treatment plans (Macklin 2005).
In South Australia, children health service providers are required to report FGM cases or even those who are about to face it. Young women who are growing up in Australia and have already undergone this ordeal are encouraged to visit a local doctor about the problems they might be facing, or a counselor who understands their problem. As such, health experts should be able to account for their own actions. They must help maintain the patients' dignity and self-esteem.
According to Baron (2006), de-infibulation is the reversing of FGM and opening the vagina once again. This is done just before marriage so as to prepare for sexual intercourse. It is also done for pregnancy or childbirth. It is therefore important for a woman to look at all these options with the doctor. Some women growing up in Australia wish to reverse this procedure. Nevertheless, this mostly ends up affecting their family relationships, especially with their parents who may not approve of it. Consequently, nurses should help in advising them to defer the procedure of reversing it until they become adults unless they face medical reasons or complications. Re-infibulation refers to the process in which a woman is restored to her earlier state, usually after child birth (Patrick 2007). If there is any damage to the perineal area, then it should be repaired immediately. Some education or counseling needs to be done to parents before and after birth so that they can consider their health or FGM issues. The nurse should be able to identify the threats undermining the patients' safety and take corrective measures. She must display knowledge on preventing infections.
Questions have been raised on whether health professional should be concerned about human rights or human needs or both. Public health physicians need to have training and skills so that they can make difficult decisions when faced with a tough situation. Oriel (2005) believes that this should be so because many decisions made are supposed to balance public health needs and individual needs. Some of the ethics to be practiced are that: they should be able to avoid, prevent and remove harms; they should be able to protect young girls who are just about to be circumcised; they should respect individual choices and actions, not forgetting the liberty of action; if an individual from this community wants to reverse the circumcision, then they should help her; they should also be able to protect private and confidential information; they should build and maintain trust ;they should disclose information and at the same time speak with honesty and truth. The nurses should be able to implement these moral considerations particularly when they are in conflict with each other (Nour 2005).
I recommend that this matter be taken seriously. Many girls and women are suffering due to this vice. It is quite obvious that these girls are forced into doing what is against their wish. Most if not all of them do not make these decisions. They are forced by their parents or those in charge of them. FGM is usually done to young girls who have no say on their lives.
Doing away with FGM in immigrant Australian communities is not something that can be done within a flash. It will take a number of years because it is something that is deeply rooted in the traditions of these communities. That is why most of the girls are taken to their mother countries when they find out that Australia is hard on them. As such, being hard on them will not work. Khalafzai (2008) asserts that any help should start by educating the parents, or the adults in the specific society on the truth about the dangers of FGM. Those who have a say in these societies, such as religious leaders should be called in to help. The governments of the countries where these immigrants come from should be pressured so that they can be vigilant and quick to prosecute those who commit these atrocities. Indeed, this is an atrocity because girls who undergo FGM face a lot of health problems later in their lives if not immediately.
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The young girls or women who have undergone the cut should be counseled and helped if they are found to have health complications. They should also be given true information on why FGM is a bad practice so that they cannot do it to their children. Parents, especially men in these societies should be held accountable because they are mostly the decision makers when it comes to such matters. As such, they should be educated to change their notion and tradition that they should only marry girls who have undergone FGM. In my own opinion, immigrants who want to enter the country should be held responsible when such matters occur. For example they should be warned not take their young girls out of the country to perform the practice, or else, they will be deported. This will go a long way in curbing this practice. People who are found guilty of the same should be prosecuted. The medical fraternity on the other hand should be able to help those who want to reverse it and remain confidential. They should provide a lot of helpful information concerning this vice to the affected people. According to Oriel (2005) some of the communities which practice FGM lack proper information about it and their beliefs and traditions are misplaced. For example, why would someone say that a girl will not have children if they don't undergo this ordeal? This matter is very important and therefore necessary mechanisms or laws should be put in place to curb this act because it is the women who are suffering under the disguise of traditions; traditions that were long put up by men who did not understand the body of a woman. It is time that these traditions are done away with.
To conclude, the quality of health care system of Australia ranks the highest. Health care in Australia is provided by both the private sector and the government. It is good to see that the Australian government is doing a commendable job in trying to do away with this vice. It is quite evident that medical staff should work hand in hand with the community so that they can get to know their medical practices and try to reason with them. They should provide health related information to them. It is evident that more and more women continue to seek help in their home countries after the cut. Some immigrant women who seek help fear that they will be demonized. One has to work with the women, listen to them and their point of view so as to help them. Dr Ted Weaver agrees with the fact that ordering people will do little to salvage the situation (Narulla 2007). They need to provide culturally appropriate care. Dr Gino Peccararo says they need to offer alternatives so as to avoid women being taken back to their home countries (Narulla 2007). These procedures are mostly done by people who are not professionals. Challenges have aroused due to the fact that there exists wide inequality in health care between countries. So health experts should find other approaches such as public health action and education. Public health action emphasizes the change of an individual's behaviour. Public health has a goal of protecting and improving the health of a population.