Nahid Toubia

Presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations,
University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 9-11, 1996.

There is a growing population of African immigrant women and girls in the United States that come from countries where female genital mutilation is prevalent. However, efforts to address female genital mutilation in this country have focused primarily on legislation to prohibit the practice. Overall, there has been little attempt to offer support services to genitally mutilated women or to provide information on the health risks of female genital mutilation to families of young girls.

In response, RAINBO has launched the African Women's Health Project. Project staff are speaking with African immigrant women and men, service providers and community organizations in New York City to assess their concerns regarding female genital mutilation and their needs for information and services. Based on their input, RAINBO will design training materials for service providers and develop appropriate education and intervention strategies. The aim is to foster thoughtful, effective and community-based approaches to addressing female genital mutilation in the United States.

RAINBO, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on issues of women's health and human rights, has worked extensively on female genital mutilation for the past two years. The organization assists international agencies including UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Health Organization in developing frameworks to guide their programs and policies on female genital mutilation; provides technical support to African organizations on research, training and intervention activities; organizes meetings and workshops to advance policy, technical issues and ethical approaches to addressing female genital mutilation; and facilitates information dissemination through its resource center on female genital mutilation and related topics.

Nahid Toubia, M.D., founder and Executive Director of RAINBO, has worked to advance awareness and prevention of the practice of female genital mutilation for several years, conducting research, publishing articles and books, lecturing and providing training on the subject. Dr. Toubia is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England and the first woman surgeon in Sudan, with more than 15 years experience in public hospitals in her country. She has a Masters Degree in Health Planning and Financing from the University of London and worked for four years as an associate for women's health at the Population Council in New York. She is currently an assistant professor of clinical health at Columbia University School of Public Health.

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