By Ali Bouzerda
MARRAKESH, Morocco (Reuter) - Medical experts urged African countries Monday to abandon genital mutilation of women, saying 2 million females suffered each year, often causing complications in childbirth.
Meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, the specialists particularly targeted Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for a tradition in which much of a girl's genitals are cut away, often crudely and painfully.
``On behalf of this world congress, I urge African states to put an end to such practice ... There is no one religion that prescribes female genital mutilation,'' Dr. Daniel Weinstein, president of the World Society on Labor and Delivery, told reporters.
``Every year, two million women and girls are mutilated in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and other African countries,'' he said, adding: ``The mutilated women ... often face complications during childbirth.''
The meeting of more than 750 health specialists is focused on trying to bring down the number of women who die in childbirth, which Weinstein put at 6 million since the start of the 1990s.
Marlene Edith Post, president of the U.S.-based Hadassah International Medical Relief Association, termed this record of maternal mortality ... ``worse than AIDS disease...because women are the first target of both human tragedies.
``Mutilation is another issue we will examine during this meeting.''
Swedish specialist Rosemary Holst said some 120 million African women were already mutiliated for life on ``sexual, social, hygienic, aesthetic or religious'' grounds.
``The most serious form, infibulation, affects almost the entire female population of Somalia,'' she said.
Infibulation involves cutting of the clitoris and most of the labia, and complications can be immediate or long term, she said.
Article from Mercury Online service, 02:39 PM ET 03/10/97
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