• Ashley Kim Stewart
This project begins with a brief outline of the perspectives of both sides of the female genital mutilation debate. It then explores more fully the position of the people who oppose the practice of FGM, including a consideration of the consequences that the mutilation has on the quality of life of women and girls who have experienced the procedure. It is also important to offer some balance to the anti-FGM side of the debate, to truly understand why it is done, instead of simply criticising the fact that it is done. So this is followed by a consideration of FGM as a cultural issue, how it relates to values, religious systems and beliefs (including both superstitions and cultural beliefs, and ones relating to health), its role in marriage politics and aesthetics, and finally the economic reasons for its continuance across such a wide variety of African cultures. The reason why such a macro perspective was chosen is that it is important not only to get a broad overview of why FGM is performed, as well as an idea of how complex and interwoven the practice is with the identity of the peoples who perform it, but also to situate the phenomenon in its global context. In order to understand why genital mutilation is still so prevalent, it is important to understand what measures have already been taken to attempt to eliminate it, from international policy through to community-level campaigns. It is important too, as well as to understand the broader, national and international contexts of FGM, to also understand the women involved on a more individual level. There is a discussion of why women would choose to perpetuate FGM on their daughters, knowing, as they do, the impact that it is going to have on the rest of their lives. This is followed by the viewpoints of female genital mutilation that has been shared by women who have emigrated from Africa, to offer some perspective, as women who are still in Africa are enmeshed in the culture and tradition which makes FGM necessary. Female genital mutilation has been identified in this report as being a symptom of the larger problem of the oppression and inequality of women, universally. When women are given alternatives to needing to be circumcised to marry, or alternatives to having to get their daughters married off in order for them to survive, then they take them, indicating that the elimination of FGM is something that they desire. Finally, a more holistic approach to the anti-genital mutilation movement is proposed, in order to attempt to offer a bigger impact than has been achieved thus far, in reducing the prevalence of FGM.
Publication date2009
Number of pages58
Publishing institutionAalborg University
ID: 17809079