Female genital mutilation is illegal in Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In the US “any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl is illegal. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics softened its opposition to FGM because it fears that it could actually worsen the situation. Because American doctors refuse, parents often take girls back to their home countries where FGM is done in unhygienic and unsafe conditions. In a revised policy statement, the AAP’s bioethics committee suggests a compromise:
“It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.”
Dr. Friedman Ross told the New York Times that the AAP opposes “all types of female genital cutting that impose risks or physical or psychological harm,” and consider the ritual nick “a last resort,” but that the nick is “supposed to be as benign as getting a girl’s ears pierced. It’s taking a pin and creating a drop of blood.”
However, critics of FGM were adamant that even this concession was completely immoral. In the UK, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health issued their own statement:
"To suggest that a qualified medical practitioner is involved in this practice as a ‘compromise’ does not make it less brutal and has the danger of giving legitimacy to FGM. Two wrongs do not make a right. The main objective for all civilised societies has to be the complete eradication of an unacceptable practice."
Originally, circumcisions were done with obsidian knives of a high salt content which inhibited infection. The introduction of steel, while seeming a modern advance to Africans, actually increases the risk of infection. To understand female circumcision in cultural context read this.