In some cultures, people do things to damage girls’ or women’s private parts. This is called ‘female genital mutilation’ or sometimes ‘female circumcision’. In Victoria, the law says this is wrong.
The law says that that doctors, nurses and midwifes are allowed to do some operations and medical things to women’s and girls’ private parts to keep them healthy. These things are different from female genital mutilation. Some of these operations and medical things can be:
- Medical things that doctors must do to look after your health. Examples include cutting your vagina to help you have a baby, stitching your private parts to fix them if you are hurt or doing an operation if you have a bad health problem.
- Unstitching or treating your private parts after somebody else has done female genital mutilation to you.
- An abortion. An abortion is a medical thing that ends your pregnancy before you have a baby. In Victoria, doctors are only allowed to give you an abortion if you ask them to do this for you and you have been pregnant for less than 24 weeks.
- Operations that change your private parts if you are a transgender or intersex person and have asked for these operations.
The law also says that doctors must have a really important health reason to do an operation if it will stop you having children in the future (called ‘sterilisation’). A doctor can’t do an operation like this without an important health reason, unless a law court says it is OK.
For more information, you can the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program.