Comfort Iyabo Amah Momoh is a midwife in England who specializes in the study and treatment of female genital mutilation (FGM). Originally from Nigeria, she is a public health official at Guy's Hospital in London, where in 1997 she set up the African Well Women's Clinic, dedicated to caring for women affected by FGM. In 1999 she worked as an adviser to the World Health Organization on the issue of FGM, and in 2001 represented the UK at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Momoh is the editor of Female Genital Mutilation (2005). In 2008, she was awarded an MBE for services to women's healthcare, and an honorary doctorate from Middlesex University. She holds an MA from the University of London, and is an honorary lecturer there.
Work with female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision and female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organization as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." It is conducted for cultural reasons in 28 countries in western, eastern, and north-eastern Africa, in parts of Asia and the Middle East, and within some immigrant communities in Europe and North America. According to Amnesty International in 1997, 135 million females around the world have experienced FGM.
Momoh is sought out by women in the UK who have undergone one form of the procedure—Type III FGM, which involves removing the clitoris, most of the labia, and closing the vagina and pubic area, leaving only a small hole for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. As a result the women need help when giving birth. Momoh is the only midwife in the country who reverses FGM by opening up the seal and reforming the labia. Other types of FGM (Types I and II) involve removal of the clitoral hood, the clitoris and/or the labia minora, but leave the vagina open and the labia majora intact.
Momoh said in 2005 that research in 2000 had revealed there were 74,000 women and girls living in the UK who had experienced some form of FGM, and 7,000 girls at risk of having it done. According to The Guardian between 500 and 2,000 British girls from immigrant families are believed to undergo FGM every year. Some undergo the procedure in the UK after the family flies in a traditional circumciser from Africa. These are known as "house doctors," because they carry out FGM in people's homes. Others are taken overseas. The Guardian writes that the six-week-long school summer holiday in the UK is for these girls the most dangerous time of the year. Momoh told the newspaper in 2005: "If a girl tells her teacher she is going back to her country of origin for the summer, for example, and her mother says that when she comes back she will be a woman, the teacher needs to start asking questions. It is too late once the child returns."
- 2008 New Year Honours
- Foundation for Women's Health, Research and Development
- Prevalence of female genital mutilation by country
- "Comfort Momoh lecture series", The Royal Women's Hospital, Australia, accessed 5 September 2011.
- For the MBE, see Dixon, Suzi. "Health and beauty: New Year Honours", The Daily Telegraph, 31 December 2007.
- For the MA, honorary doctorate, and lectureship, see "About", Global Consultants, accessed 7 September 2011.
- "Female genital mutilation", World Health Organization, February 2010.
- "Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An interagency statement", World Health Organization, 2008, pp. 4, 23, 24–28.
- "What is female genital mutilation?, Amnesty International, AI Index: ACT 77/06/97, accessed September 7, 2011.
- Ryan, Caroline. "Reversing female circumcision", BBC News, 8 February 2003.
- Rix, Juliet. "Comfort Momoh", The Guardian, 9 November 2005.
- McVeigh, Tracy and Sutton, Tara. "British girls undergo horror of genital mutilation despite tough laws", The Guardian, 25 July 2010.
- Kerbaj, Richard. "Thousands of girls mutilated in Britain", The Times, 16 March 2009.
- "Global Consultants", accessed 7 September 2011.
- BBC Radio 4. "One woman’s fight against female circumcision", interview on Woman's Hour with Comfort Momoh, 26 October 2006.
- "Hospitals and Clinics in the UK offering Specialist FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) Services", FORWARD, accessed 7 September 2011.