Female genital mutilation
|Definition||Defined by the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA as the "partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."|
|Areas||Most common in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan|
|Numbers||125 million in those countries|
Days after birth to puberty
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Typically carried out by a traditional circumciser with a blade or razor, with or without anaesthesia, FGM is concentrated in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan. It is practised to a lesser extent elsewhere in Asia and among diaspora communities around the world. The age at which it is conducted varies from days after birth to puberty; in half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five.
The procedures differ according to the ethnic group. They include removal of the clitoral hood and clitoris, and in the most severe form (known as infibulation) removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva; in this last procedure, a small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, and the vagina is opened for intercourse and childbirth. Health effects depend on the procedure, but can include recurrent infections, chronic pain, cysts, an inability to get pregnant, complications during childbirth and fatal bleeding. There are no known health benefits.
The practice is rooted in gender inequality, attempts to control women's sexuality, and ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics. It is usually initiated and carried out by women, who see it as a source of honour, and who fear that failing to have their daughters and granddaughters cut will expose the girls to social exclusion. Over 125 million women and girls have experienced FGM in the 29 countries in which it is concentrated. Over eight million have been infibulated, a practice most common in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
FGM has been outlawed or restricted in most of the countries in which it occurs, but the laws are poorly enforced. There have been international efforts since the 1970s to persuade practitioners to abandon it, and in 2012 the United Nations General Assembly, recognizing FGM as a human-rights violation, voted unanimously to intensify those efforts. The opposition is not without its critics, particularly among anthropologists. Eric Silverman writes that FGM has become one of anthropology's central moral topics, raising difficult questions about cultural relativism, tolerance and the universality of human rights.
- 1 Terminology
- 2 Procedures, health effects
- 3 Prevalence
- 4 Reasons
- 5 History
- 6 Opposition
- 7 Criticism of opposition
- 8 Sources
- 9 Further reading
Until the 1980s FGM was widely known as female circumcision, which implied an equivalence in severity with male circumcision. In 1929 the Kenya Missionary Council began referring to it as the "sexual mutilation of women," following the lead of Marion Scott Stevenson, a Church of Scotland missionary. References to it as mutilation increased throughout the 1970s. Anthropologist Rose Oldfield Hayes used the term "female genital mutilation" in 1975 in the title of a paper, and in 1979 Austrian-American researcher Fran Hosken called it mutilation in her influential The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females.
The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children began calling it female genital mutilation in 1990, as did the World Health Organization (WHO) the following year. In April 1997 the WHO, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) issued a "Joint Statement on Female Genital Mutilation," defining it as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons." Other terms include female genital cutting (FGC) and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), often used by those working with practitioners.
The many variants of FGM, which depend on the ethnic group and individual practitioner, are reflected in dozens of local terms in countries where it is common; women in Niger responded to a survey in 1998 using 50 different terms. These often refer to purification. A common Arabic term for purification has the root t-h-r, used for male and female circumcision (tahur and tahara). In the Bambara language in Mali it is known as bolokoli ("washing your hands") and in the Igbo language in Nigeria as isa aru ("having your bath").
The mildest form (clitoridectomy) is widely known as sunna circumcision. Sunna means following the tradition of Muhammad, although the procedure is not required within Islam. A sunna kashfa in Sudan, for example, involves removing half the clitoris. Nuss ("half") in Sudan is for anything between clitoridectomy and infibulation, and juwaniya ("the inside type") is where only the inner labia are sewn together. In Somalia removal of the clitoris and inner labia is known as xalaalays or gudniin. The term infibulation derives from fibula, Latin for clasp, and is said to refer to the Ancient Roman practice of fastening one across the labia of slaves. Infibulation is known as pharaonic circumcision (or purification, tahur faraowniya) in Sudan, but as Sudanese circumcision in Egypt. In Somalia it is known simply as qodob ("to sew up").
Procedures, health effects
The procedures are generally performed by a traditional circumciser, with or without anaesthesia, often in the girl's home. The circumciser is usually an older woman who may be the local midwife; in communities where the male barber has assumed the role of health worker, he will perform FGM too. In Egypt, Sudan and Kenya FGM is carried out by health professionals; surveys in Egypt in 1997–2011 indicated that 77 percent of FGM procedures were performed by medical professionals, often physicians.
When traditional circumcisers are involved, non-sterile cutting devices are likely to be used, including knives, razors, scissors, glass, sharpened rocks and fingernails. A nurse in Uganda, quoted in 2007 in The Lancet, said a circumciser would use one knife to cut up to 30 girls at a time. Cauterization is used in parts of Ethiopia.
Depending on the involvement of healthcare professionals, the procedures may include a local or general anaesthetic, or neither. According to UNICEF in 2013, women in Egypt reported in 1995 that a local anaesthetic had been used on their daughters in 60 percent of cases, a general in 13 percent, and neither in 25 percent (two percent were missing/don't know). Given the involvement of medical professionals in Egypt, the percentage of procedures performed elsewhere without anaesthesia is likely to be higher.
The procedures vary according to ethnicity and individual practitioners. The difficulty of collecting accurate data across so many countries means that none of the typologies are entirely accurate. The aid agencies have created them based on household surveys known as Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS); these have been conducted in Africa roughly every five years, since 1984 and 1995 respectively. The questionnaires are completed by women aged 15–49.
In one survey in Niger in 1998, the women responded with 50 different terms when asked what was done to them. Translation problems are compounded by the women's confusion over which procedure they experienced. In a 2006 study in Sudan, in which over 500 women were asked to describe their procedure before being examined, a significant percentage of infibulated women reported a lesser procedure.
UNICEF divides FGM into four categories: (1) cut, no flesh removed (pricking or symbolic circumcision); (2) cut, some flesh removed; (3) sewn closed; and (4) type not determined/unsure/doesn't know. The WHO categorizes the main procedures as Types I–III, and Type IV for symbolic circumcision and miscellaneous procedures.
WHO Types I–IV
Most women who undergo FGM experience Types I or II. Type I is further divided into Ia, the removal of the clitoral hood (rarely, if ever performed alone), and the more common Ib (clitoridectomy), the partial or total removal of the clitoris and clitoral hood. Susan Izett and Nahid Toubia write: "[T]he clitoris is held between the thumb and index finger, pulled out and amputated with one stroke of a sharp object." Type II (excision) is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and inner labia, with or without removal of the outer labia. (The term excision in French often refers to any form of FGM.)
Type III (infibulation) is the removal of all the external genitalia and the fusion of the wound. The inner and/or outer labia are cut away, with or without removal of the clitoris. A single 2–5 mm-hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood by inserting something, such as a twig, into the wound. The vulva is closed with surgical thread, agave or acacia thorns, or a poultice of raw egg, herbs and sugar. The girl's legs are tied together to help the tissue bond; the bindings are loosened after a week and usually removed after two. The parts that have been removed might be placed in a pouch for the girl to wear.
Comfort Momoh, a specialist midwife in England, describes an infibulation:
More than eight million women in Africa, aged 15–49 years, have experienced Type III, which is common in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The vulva is opened with a penis or knife for sexual intercourse. It is opened again for childbirth and repaired afterwards; this is known as defibulation (or deinfibulation) and reinfibulation. There is also a procedure, known in Sudan known as El Adel, in which the vagina is cut again and tightened to mirror the size of the first infibulation. This is mostly performed after childbirth, but sometimes also before marriage and after divorce. Psychologist Hanny Lightfoot-Klein interviewed 300 Sudanese women and 100 men in the 1980s about sexual intercourse with Type III:
The WHO defines Type IV as "[a]ll other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization." It includes nicking of the clitoris (symbolic circumcision), burning or scarring the genitals, introducing substances into the vagina to tighten it, [gishiri cutting]] and angurya cutting. Gishiri cutting involves cutting the vagina's anterior (front) wall to enlarge it, and angurya cuts scrape tissue away from around the vagina. Another procedure is hymenotomy, the removal of a hymen regarded as too thick, practised by the Hausa in West Africa. Labia stretching is also categorized as Type IV; in Tanzania and the Congo girls are encouraged to stretch the clitoris and inner labia using sticks.
FGM has no known health benefits. It has immediate, short-term and late complications, which depend on several factors: the type of FGM; the conditions in which the procedure took place and whether the practitioner had medical training; whether unsterilized or surgical single-use instruments were used; and whether surgical thread was used instead of agave or acacia thorns. Other factors include the availability of antibiotics; how small a hole was left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood; and whether the procedure was performed more than once (for example, to close an opening regarded as too wide or re-open one too small).
Immediate complications include fatal bleeding, acute urinary retention, urinary infection, wound infection, septicemia, tetanus, and transmission of hepatitis or HIV if instruments are non-sterile or reused. Because fatalities are rarely reported – few records are kept and complications may not be recognized – it is not known how many girls and women die.
Short-term complications include necrotizing fasciitis, delay in wound healing due to infection, endometritis and hepatitis. Late complications vary depending on the type of FGM performed. The formation of scars and keloids can lead to strictures, obstruction or fistula formation of the urinary and genital tracts. Urinary-tract sequelae include damage to urethra and bladder, with infections and incontinence. Genital-tract sequelae include vaginal and pelvic infections, painful periods, pain during sexual intercourse and infertility. Complete obstruction of the vagina results in hematocolpos and hematometra. Other complications include epidermoid cysts that may become infected, neuroma formation involving nerves that supplied the clitoris, and pelvic pain.
FGM may complicate pregnancy and place women at higher risk for obstetrical problems, which are more common with the more extensive FGM procedures. Thus, in women with Type III who have developed vesicovaginal or rectovaginal fistulae (holes that allow urine or faeces to seep into the vagina), it is difficult to obtain clear urine samples as part of prenatal care, making the diagnosis of conditions such as pre-eclampsia harder. Cervical evaluation during labour may be impeded and labour prolonged. Third-degree laceration, anal-sphincter damage and emergency caesarean section are more common in women who have experienced FGM.
Neonatal mortality is also increased. The WHO estimated that an additional 10–20 babies die per 1,000 deliveries as a result of FGM; the estimate was based on a 2006 study conducted on 28,393 women attending delivery wards at 28 obstetric centres in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. In those settings all types of FGM were found to pose an increased risk of death to the baby: 15 percent higher for Type I, 32 percent for Type II and 55 percent for Type III.
Psychological complications include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, feelings of shame and betrayal can develop when the women move outside their traditional circles and learn that their condition is not the norm. They are more likely to report painful sexual intercourse and reduced sexual feelings. FGM does not necessarily destroy sexual desire in women; according to studies in the 1980s and 1990s, women said they were able to enjoy sex, though the risk of sexual dysfunction was higher with Type III.
FGM is mostly found in what political scientist Gerry Mackie describes as an "intriguingly contiguous" zone in Africa – east to west from Somalia to Senegal, and north to south from Egypt to Tanzania. Nigeria, with a population of approximately 167 million, has the highest number of women and girls who have experienced it, roughly one-quarter of the global total. Around one-fifth of all cases are in Egypt.
Information about FGM's prevalence has been collected since 1989 in a series of Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). A 2013 UNICEF report based on 70 of these surveys indicated that FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, as well as in Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan. UNICEF estimates that 125 million women and girls in those 29 countries have been affected. The report grouped the countries from very-high to very-low prevalence among women aged 15–49:
A country's national prevalence may reflect FGM's concentration among certain ethnicities, rather than a widespread practice. For example, in Iraq it is found mostly among the Kurds in Erbil (58 percent sub-national prevalence in age group 15–49), Sulaymaniyah (54 percent) and Kirkuk (20 percent), giving the country a national prevalence of eight percent. FGM is not invariably an ethnic marker, but can differ across national lines. In Guinea 99 percent of Fulani women have experienced it, against 12 percent of the Fulani in Chad, while in Nigeria the Fulani are the only large ethnic group in the country not to practise it.
In surveys from 1997 to 2011, FGM was more common in rural areas, lower in most countries among girls from the wealthiest homes, and (except in Sudan and Somalia) lower in girls whose mothers had access to primary or secondary/higher education. In Somalia and Sudan the situation was reversed: in Somalia the mothers' access to secondary/higher education was accompanied by a rise in prevalence of FGM in their daughters, and in Sudan access to any education was accompanied by a rise.
Outside the 29 key countries, FGM has been documented in India, the United Arab Emirates, among the Bedouin in Israel, and reported by anecdote in Colombia, Congo, Oman, Peru and Sri Lanka. It is practised in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia, and by immigrant communities in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Scandinavia, the United States and Canada.
Type of FGM
Most women who undergo FGM experience Types I or II. In Egypt Types I and II are performed, but Mackie writes that Type II is more common. In Nigeria Type I is more common in the south of the country. Type III is concentrated in northeastern Africa, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The type of procedure is linked to ethnicity. In Eritrea all Hedareb girls are infibulated, compared to just two percent of the Tigrinya, most of whom undergo UNICEF's "cut, no flesh removed" category.
In half the countries for which national figures were available in 2000–2010, most girls had been cut by five. Over 80 percent are cut before that age in Nigeria, Mali, Eritrea, Ghana and Mauritania. The percentage is reversed in Somalia, Egypt, Chad and the Central African Republic, where over 80 percent are cut between five and 14. A 1997 survey found that 76 percent of girls in Yemen had been cut within two weeks of birth. Just as the type of FGM is linked to ethnicity, so is the mean age; in Kenya, for example, the Kisi cut at around age 10 and the Kamba at 16.
In 2013 UNICEF reported a downward trend in over half the 29 key countries in the 15–19 cohort compared to women aged 45–49. They wrote in July 2014 that the likelihood of a girl experiencing FGM in 2014 is overall one third lower than it was three decades ago. If the current rate of decline continues, the number of women and girls affected by FGM in the 29 countries will increase from 125 million to 196 million by 2050 because of population growth.
In Kenya and Tanzania, women aged 45–49 years were found to be three times more likely to have been cut than the 15–19 cohort (a drop in Kenya from 49 to 15 percent, and in Tanzania from 22 to 7 percent). In Benin, Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia and Nigeria the figure for the 15–19 group had dropped by about half. Prevalence rates in Chad, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen remained roughly the same.
Women who respond to surveys on FGM are reporting events experienced years ago; the time lag means that prevalence figures do not reflect current trends in the youngest group. In 2008–2011 women in 12 countries were asked about the FGM status of their daughters aged 0–14. The surveys showed a prevalence rate, at the lowest, of 0.4 percent in Togo (4 percent for the 15–49 group), 17 percent in Egypt (91 percent for 15–49), and 37 percent in Sudan (88 percent for 15–49). The highest rate for 0–14 was in Gambia at 56 percent (76 percent for 15–49). A study in Egypt after FGM was banned in 2008 found that the incidence rate had fallen to 7.7 percent in 2009; most of the procedures were still conducted by physicians. To what extent the lower rates reflect lasting decline is unclear. UNICEF bases its figures on the 15–49 cohort because it regards uncut girls as at risk until they are 14. An additional complication is that, in countries with campaigns against FGM, women may choose not to report that their daughters have been cut.
Practitioners see the rituals as upholding community boundaries and values, and an essential element in raising a girl. The most common reasons cited in surveys include social acceptance, hygiene, preservation of virginity, marriageability, enhancement of male sexual pleasure, and religion. The primary sexual concerns vary between communities. Anika Rahman and Nahid Toubia write that the focus in Egypt, Sudan and Somalia is on curbing premarital sex, while in Kenya and Uganda the aim is to reduce a woman's sexual desire so that her husband can take several wives. Infibulation may enhance male sexual pleasure; Gruenbaum writes that men seem to enjoy the effort of penetrating it.
There are also aesthetic factors, in particular a preference for a woman's genitals to be smooth and dry. Several myths contribute to FGM's continuance, including that it controls genital discharges, aids conception and birth, that an uncut clitoris will keep growing, and that the clitoris will harm a baby if it comes into contact with the baby's head. A more practical reason is that circumcisers rely on FGM for their living.
Mackie compares FGM to footbinding, which was outlawed in China in 1911. Footbinding was an ethnic marker carried out on young girls, was nearly universal where practised, and was tied to ideas about honour, appropriate marriage, health, fertility and aesthetics. It was also supported by the women themselves.
Support from women
Dahabo Musa, a Somali woman, described infibulation in a 1988 poem as the "three feminine sorrows": the procedure itself, the wedding night when the woman is cut open, then childbirth when she is cut again. Despite the evident suffering, it is women who organize the procedure. Anthropologist Rose Oldfield Hayes wrote in 1975 that educated Sudanese men living in cities who did not want their daughters to be infibulated (preferring clitoridectomy) would find the girls had been sewn up after their grandmothers arranged a visit to relatives.
In a 1982 study in Sudan, only 17.4 percent of 3,210 women opposed FGM, and most preferred excision and infibulation over clitoridectomy. Attitudes are slowly changing. In 1989–1990 in Sudan, 79 percent of women said the practice should continue, a figure reduced to 48 percent in 2010. Over 50 percent of women in Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gambia and Egypt support FGM's continuance, but elsewhere in Africa, Iraq and Yemen, most say it should end or are unsure.
Anthropologist Fadwa El Guindi argues that FGM is not simply a matter of male control, and is not intended to appeal to men. Male circumcision is viewed in Africa as defeminizing men and FGM as demasculinizing women. It is chosen by women for women, she maintains, to reduce sexuality before marriage and enhance it afterwards. Izett and Toubia cite the case of a Somali woman with gonorrhoea who was advised to remain defibulated after childbirth, but who insisted on being reinfibulated, leading to pain so severe she could hardly walk. She did this out of "her own sense of impurity and shame," they wrote.
Waris Dirie, the Somali model and anti-FGM activist, writes that women have their daughters circumcised simply because they feel they have no choice if the girls are to find husbands. Uncut women in communities where FGM is concentrated are viewed as dirty and oversexed. UNICEF reported in 1995 that in Tanzania the Masai would not call an uncut woman "mother" when she had children.
Because of poor access to information, and because the circumcisers downplay the causal connection, women may not associate the health consequences with the procedure. Lala Baldé, president of a women's association in Medina Cherif, a village in the Kolda region of Senegal, told Mackie in 1998 that when girls fell ill or died, it was attributed to evil spirits. When informed of the causal relationship, Mackie writes, the women broke down and wept. He argues that surveys taken before and after this sharing of information would show very different levels of support for FGM.
Mackie has worked with UNICEF to develop programmes in which whole villages pledge to leave their daughters uncut and allow their sons to marry uncut girls. The American non-profit group Tostan, founded by Molly Melching in 1991, has used this model successfully in several countries, including Senegal; in 1997 Malicounda Bambara became the first village in Senegal to abandon FGM.
Surveys have shown a widespread belief in practising countries, particularly in Mali, Eritrea, Mauritania, Guinea and Egypt, that FGM is a religious requirement. Gerry Mackie and John LeJeune write that practitioners may not distinguish between religion, tradition and chastity, making it difficult to interpret the data.
Mackie writes that FGM is found "only in or adjacent to" Islamic groups. There is no mention of it in the Quran. It is praised in several hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required, along with advice that the milder forms are kinder to women. Although its origins are pre-Islamic, FGM became associated with Islam because of that religion's focus on female chastity and seclusion. In 2007 the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research in Cairo ruled, according to UNICEF, that FGM had "no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions."
FGM is also practised by animist groups, particularly in Guinea and Mali, and by Christians. In Niger, for example, 55 percent of Christian women and girls have experienced FGM, compared with two percent of their Muslim counterparts. There is no mention of FGM in the Bible, and Christian missionaries in Africa were among the first to object to it. The only Jewish group known to have practised it are the Beta Israel of Ethiopia; Judaism requires male circumcision, but does not allow FGM.
The origins of the practice are unknown. Gerry Mackie has suggested that it began with the Meroite civilization in present-day Sudan; he writes that its east-west, north-south contiguous distribution in Africa intersects in Sudan, and speculates that infibulation originated there with imperial polygyny, before the rise of Islam, to increase confidence in paternity.
The spell was found on the sarcophagus of Sit-hedjhotep, now in the Egyptian Museum, and dates to Egypt's Middle Kingdom, c. 1991–1786 BCE. (Paul F. O'Rourke argues that 'm't probably refers instead to a menstruating woman.) The proposed circumcision of an Egyptian girl, Tathemis, is mentioned on a Greek papyrus from 163 BCE in the British Museum:
The examination of mummies has shown no evidence of FGM. Citing the Australian pathologist Grafton Elliot Smith, who examined hundreds of mummies in the early 20th century, Knight writes that the genital area may resemble Type III, because during mummification the skin of the outer labia was pulled toward the anus to cover the pudendal cleft, possibly to prevent sexual violation. It was similarly not possible to determine whether Types I or II had been performed, because soft tissues had been removed by the embalmers or had deteriorated.
The Greek geographer Strabo (c. 64 BCE – c. 23 CE) wrote about FGM after visiting Egypt around 25 BCE (right). The philosopher Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE) also made reference to it: "the Egyptians by the custom of their country circumcise the marriageable youth and maid in the fourteenth (year) of their age, when the male begins to get seed, and the female to have a menstrual flow." It is mentioned briefly in a work attributed to the Greek physician Galen (129 – c. 200 CE): "When [the clitoris] sticks out to a great extent in their young women, Egyptians consider it appropriate to cut it out."
Another Greek physician, Aëtius of Amida (mid-5th to mid-6th century CE), offered more detail in book 16 of his Sixteen Books on Medicine, citing the physician Philomenes. The procedure was performed in case the clitoris, or nymphê, grew too large or triggered sexual desire when rubbing against clothing. "On this account, it seemed proper to the Egyptians to remove it before it became greatly enlarged," Aëtius wrote, "especially at that time when the girls were about to be married":
The genital area was then cleaned with a sponge, frankincense powder and wine or cold water, and wrapped in linen bandages dipped in vinegar until the seventh day, when calamine, rose petals, date pits or a "genital powder made from baked clay" might be spread on the wound.
Whatever the practice's origins, infibulation became linked to slavery. Mackie cites the Portuguese missionary João dos Santos, who in 1609 wrote of a group inland from Mogadishu who had a "custome to sew up their Females, especially their slaves being young to make them unable for conception, which makes these slaves sell dearer, both for their chastitie, and for better confidence which their Masters put in them." The English explorer William Browne wrote in 1799 that the Egyptians practised excision, and that slaves in that country were infibulated to prevent pregnancy. Thus, Mackie argues, a "practice associated with shameful female slavery came to stand for honor."
Europe and the United States
Gynaecologists in 19th-century Europe and the United States removed the clitoris to treat insanity and masturbation. British doctor Robert Thomas suggested clitoridectomy as a cure for nymphomania in 1813. One of the first reported clitoridectomies in the West was performed in 1822 in Berlin by Karl Ferdinand von Graefe; the patient was a teenage girl regarded as an "imbecile" who was masturbating.
Isaac Baker Brown, an English gynaecologist, president of the Medical Society of London, and co-founder in 1845 of St. Mary's Hospital in London, believed that masturbation, or "unnatural irritation" of the clitoris, caused epilepsy, hysteria, mania and idiocy, and "set to work to remove [it] whenever he had the opportunity of doing so," according to his obituary in the Medical Times and Gazette.
Brown performed several clitoridectomies between 1859 and 1866. When he published his views in On the Curability of Certain Forms of Insanity, Epilepsy, Catalepsy, and Hysteria in Females (1866), doctors in London accused him of quackery and expelled him from the Obstetrical Society.
In the United States J. Marion Sims followed Brown's work, and in 1862 slit the neck of a woman's uterus and amputated her clitoris, "for the relief of the nervous or hysterical condition as recommended by Baker Brown," after the patient had complained of period pain, convulsions and bladder problems. G. J. Barker-Benfield writes that clitoridectomy continued in the US until at least 1904 and perhaps into the 1920s. According to a 1985 paper in the Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, it was performed in the US into the 1960s to treat hysteria, erotomania and lesbianism.
Colonial opposition in Kenya
Protestant missionaries in British East Africa (present-day Kenya), began campaigning against FGM in the early 20th century when Dr. John Arthur joined the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM) in Kikuyu. The practice was known by the Kikuyu, the country's main ethnic group, as irua for both girls and boys, and involved excision (Type II) for girls and removal of the foreskin for boys. It was an important ethnic marker, and unexcised Kikuyu women, known as irugu, were outcasts.
Jomo Kenyatta, general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association and Kenya's first prime minister from 1963, wrote in 1938 that, for the Kikuyu, the institution of FGM was the "conditio sine qua non of the whole teaching of tribal law, religion and morality." No proper Kikuyu man or woman would marry or have sexual relations with someone who was not circumcised. A woman's responsibilities toward the tribe began with her initiation; her age and place within tribal history was traced to that day, and the group of girls with whom she was cut was named according to current events, an oral tradition that allowed the Kikuyu to track people and events going back hundreds of years.
From 1925, beginning with the CSM mission, several missionary churches declared that FGM was prohibited for African Christians. The CSM announced that Africans practising it would be excommunicated, resulting in hundreds leaving or being expelled. The stand-off turned FGM into a focal point of the Kenyan independence movement; the 1929–1931 period is known in the country's historiography as the female circumcision controversy.
In 1929 the Kenya Missionary Council began referring to FGM as the "sexual mutilation of women," rather than circumcision, and a person's stance toward the practice became a test of loyalty, either to the Christian churches or the Kikuyu Central Association. Hulda Stumpf, an American missionary with the Africa Inland Mission who opposed FGM in the girls' school she helped to run, was murdered in 1930 after apparently being circumcised by her attacker.
In 1956 the council of male elders (the Njuri Nchecke) in Meru announced a ban on FGM. Over the next three years, as a symbol of defiance, thousands of girls cut each other's genitals with razor blades. The movement came to be known in Meru as Ngaitana ("I will circumcise myself"), because to avoid naming their friends the girls said they had cut themselves. Historian Lynn Thomas describes the episode as significant in the history of FGM because it made clear that its victims were also its perpetrators.
Growth of opposition
The first known non-colonial campaign against FGM began in Egypt in the 1920s, when the Egyptian Doctors' Society called for a ban. A parallel campaign began in Sudan in the 1920s and 1930s. Sudan, then under Anglo-Egyptian control, banned infibulation in 1946, but the law was unpopular and barely enforced. The Egyptian government banned infibulation in state-run hospitals in 1959, but allowed partial clitoridectomy if parents requested it. The UN asked the WHO to investigate FGM that year, but the latter responded that it was not a medical issue.
Feminists took up the issue throughout the 1970s. Egyptian physician Nawal El Saadawi's book, Women and Sex (1972), criticized FGM, was banned in Egypt, and saw El Saadawi lose her job as director general of public health. She followed up with a chapter, "The Circumcision of Girls," in The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World (1980), which described her own clitoridectomy when she was six years old:
In 1975 the American social scientist Rose Oldfield Hayes became the first female academic to publish a detailed account of FGM, aided by her ability to discuss the issues directly with women in Sudan. Her article in American Ethnologist called it "female genital mutilation," and brought it to wider academic attention.
Four years later Austrian-American feminist Fran Hosken published The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females (1979), the first to estimate the global number of women cut. She wrote that 110,529,000 women in 20 African countries had experienced it. The figures were speculative, but in several instances consistent with later surveys; Mackie writes that her work was "more informative than the silence that preceded her efforts." Describing FGM as a "training ground for male violence," Hosken accused female practitioners of "participating in the destruction of their own kind." The language caused a rift between Western and African feminists; African women boycotted a session featuring Hosken during the UN's Mid-Decade Conference on Women in Copenhagen in July 1980.
The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children called for an end to the practice in 1984, as did the UN's World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s African governments banned or restricted it. In July 2003 the African Union ratified the Maputo Protocol on the rights of women, article 5 of which supported the elimination of harmful practices, including FGM. By 2013 laws had been passed in 22 of the 27 African countries in which FGM is concentrated, though several fell short of a ban.
Egypt, where the practice may have originated, finally outlawed FGM in 2008. Two incidents in that country had attracted international attention. In 1994 CNN broadcast images of a child undergoing FGM in a barber's shop in Cairo, and in 2007 a child died during an FGM procedure. The death prompted the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, the country's highest religious authority, to rule that FGM had no basis in Islamic law, and the government outlawed it the following year. The first criminal charges under the new law were laid in 2014.
In 2003 the United Nations began sponsoring an International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation every 6 February. In December 2012 the General Assembly passed Resolution 67/146, recognizing FGM as an "irreparable, irreversible abuse that impacts negatively on the human rights of women and girls," and calling for intensified efforts to end it.
UNFPA and UNICEF launched a joint programme in 2007 with the aim of reducing FGM by 40 percent within the 0–15 age group, and eliminating it entirely from at least one country. Fifteen countries joined the programme: Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Senegal and Sudan in 2008; Burkina Faso, Gambia, Uganda and Somalia in 2009; and Eritrea, Mali and Mauritania in 2011. Phase 1 lasted from 2008 to 2013, with a budget of $37 million, over $20 million of it donated by Norway. Phase 2 extends the programme from 2014 to 2017.
By 2013 the programme had organized public declarations of abandonment in 12,753 communities, integrated FGM prevention into pre- and postnatal care in 5,571 health facilities, and trained over 100,000 doctors, nurses and midwives in FGM care and prevention. The programme helped to create alternative rites of passage in Uganda and Kenya, and in Sudan supported the (pre-existing) Saleema initiative. Saleema means "whole" in Arabic; the initiative promotes the term as a desirable description of an uncut woman. The programme noted that anti-FGM law enforcement is weak, and that, even where arrests are made, prosecution may fail because of inadequate collection of evidence. It therefore supported the training of 3011 personnel in eight countries (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda) in how to enforce the laws, and sponsored campaigns to raise awareness of them.
As a result of immigration, the practice spread to Australia, Europe, North America and Scandinavia. As of 2013 anti-FGM legislation had been passed by 33 countries outside Africa and the Middle East. Sweden banned it in 1982, the first Western country to do so. Several former colonial powers, including Belgium, Britain, France and the Netherlands, followed suit, either with new laws or by making clear that FGM was covered by existing legislation. It is banned or restricted in Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, the United States and Canada.
Canada recognized FGM as a form of persecution in July 1994, when it granted refugee status to Khadra Hassan Farah, who had fled Somalia to avoid her daughter being cut. FGM is outlawed by section 268 of the Criminal Code of Canada unless "the person is at least eighteen years of age and there is no resulting bodily harm." As of May 2012 there had been no prosecutions.
In France over 100 parents and two practitioners had been prosecuted by 2012; FGM is covered by a provision of the country's penal code dealing with violence against children. Children under six undergo medical examinations that include examination of the genitals, and doctors are obliged to report FGM. Up to 30,000 women in France are thought to have experienced it. Colette Gallard, a family-planning counsellor, writes that when FGM was first encountered there, the reaction was that Westerners ought not to intervene, and it took the deaths of two girls in 1982, one of them three months old, for that attitude to change. The first civil suit was in 1982 and the first criminal prosecution in 1993. In 1999 a woman was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for having performed FGM on 48 girls.
Around 137,000 women and girls living as permanent residents in England and Wales in 2011 were born in countries where FGM is practised, according to a 2014 report by Alison Macfarlane and Efua Dorkenoo for the City University of London and Equality Now. It is an offence in the UK under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 to perform FGM on children or adults, and an offence under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 and Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 to arrange it outside the country for British citizens or permanent residents. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern in 2013 that there had been no convictions in the UK. The first charges were brought in March 2014, against a physician and another man, after the physician repaired the infibulation of a woman in London who had given birth.
In the United States the Centers for Disease Control estimated in 1997 that 168,000 girls living there in 1990 had undergone FGM or were at risk. A Nigerian woman successfully contested deportation in March 1994 on the grounds that her daughters might be cut, and in 1996 19-year-old Fauziya Kasinga from Togo became the first to be granted asylum to escape FGM. In September 1996 the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act made it illegal to perform FGM on minors for non-medical reasons, and in January 2013 the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act prohibited knowingly transporting a minor out of the country for the purpose of FGM. The first FGM conviction was in 2006, when Khalid Adem, who had emigrated from Ethiopia, was sentenced to ten years after severing his two-year-old daughter's clitoris with a pair of scissors.
Criticism of opposition
Tolerance versus human rights
Anthropologist Eric Silverman wrote in 2004 that FGM "has emerged as one of the central moral topics of contemporary anthropology." Anthropologists have accused FGM eradicationists of cultural colonialism; the former, in turn, have been criticized for adopting a position of cultural and moral relativism toward the practice, and for failing to defend the idea of universal human rights. Anthropologist Richard Shweder, a critic of the opposition to FGM, writes that the question "what about FGM?" has come to stand as a counterargument to pluralism. In portraying African women as hapless victims, Silverman writes that the opposition can be reduced to:
The debate has highlighted, in particular, a tension between anthropology and feminism, with the former's focus on tolerance and the latter's on rights for all women. Anthropologist Christine Walley writes that a common trope within FGM literature is to present African women as "mentally castrated," participating in their own oppression as a result of false consciousness. Feminists Fran Hosken and Mary Daly both promoted that position in the 1970s. In 1981, at the height of the early debates about FGM, the French Association of Anthropologists accused Western feminists of resuscitating "the moral arrogance of yesterday's colonialism."
A commentator's position within the debate is immediately signalled by her choice of terminology – traditional women's practices, female initiation, female circumcision, female genital cutting, female genital mutilation (adopted by most of the international and medical community, and regarded by Richard Shweder as a gratuitous and invidious label), or the hybrid intended to accommodate both perspectives, female genital mutilation/cutting.
Anthropologists challenging the opposition include, apart from Shweder, Janice Boddy, Carla Obermeyer, Ellen Gruenbaum and Fuambai Ahmadu. Shweder argues against the idea of universal human rights, but maintains that if a rights perspective is adopted, it must take other rights into account, such as the right of African women to self-determination and freedom of religion.
Fuambai Ahmuda, a member of the Kono people of Sierra Leone, chose to be cut as a 22-year-old during a Sande society initiation. She argues that much of the opposition to FGM stems from an undue focus on the minority practice of infibulation, and that the negative physical effects of clitoridectomy and excision are exaggerated. The opposition presupposes that the clitoris is an integral aspect of femininity and a woman's sexuality, and that human bodies and their sex are, in some sense, complete at birth. She argues that the assumption that the female body is incomplete without its clitoris is male-centred: "female excision ... is a negation of the masculine." African female symbolism revolves instead around the concept of the womb. Excision and infibulation draw on that idea of enclosure, confinement, privacy and fertility.
Ugandan law professor Sylvia Tamale argues that early Western opposition to FGM stemmed from a Judeo-Christian judgment that African sexual culture – not only FGM, but also dry sex, polygyny and levirate marriage – was primitive and required correction; while African feminists "do not condone the negative aspects of the practice, they take strong exception to the imperialist, racist and dehumanising infantilization of African women," inherent in much of the opposition. Novelist Alice Walker, who criticized FGM in Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) and Warrior Marks (1993), was accused of portraying Africa as a "Hobbesian place of savage brutality," writes Silverman.
As an example of the disrespect toward African women within the FGM debate, historian Chima Korieh cites the publication in 1996 of the Pulitzer-prize-winning photographs of a 16-year-old Kenyan girl undergoing FGM. The photographs were published by 12 American newspapers, but, according to Korieh, the girl had not given permission for the images to be taken, much less published.
One of the areas of dispute is whether the medical evidence shows that FGM is invariably harmful. Shweder argues that it does not, citing reviews of the medical literature by epidemiologist Carla Obermeyer, who suggested in 1999, 2003 and 2005 that serious complications are the exception. Gerry Mackie disputed Obermeyer's findings, arguing that she had exaggerated the claims of the medical literature before knocking them down (by, for example, portraying the opposition as arguing that FGM invariably destroys sexual pleasure, or inevitably leads to death or serious ill health). Shweder also cites a 2001 study by Linda Morison of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that looked at the reproductive health consequences of Type II FGM in the Gambia; Morison concluded that there were few differences between the circumcised and uncircumcised women.
Comparison with other procedures
Several authors have drawn a parallel between cosmetic procedures and FGM. Ronán Conroy of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland argued in 2006 that cosmetic genital procedures were "driving the advance of female genital mutilation" by encouraging women to see natural variations as defects. Anthropologist Fadwa El Guindi compares FGM to breast enhancement, in which the maternal function of the breast becomes secondary to men's sexual pleasure; indeed, she argues, breast enhancement could be called breast mutilation, particularly when the nipples lose sensation because of implants. Benoîte Groult made a similar point in 1975, citing FGM and cosmetic surgery as sexist and patriarchal. Carla Obermeyer argues that FGM may be conducive to women's well-being within their communities in the same way that breast implants, rhinoplasty and male circumcision may help people elsewhere.
The WHO does not include cosmetic procedures such as labiaplasty, vaginoplasty and clitoral hood reduction as examples of FGM; some elective practices do fall within its categories, but its broad definition aims to avoid loopholes. Some of the legislation banning FGM would seem to cover cosmetic genital alteration too. The law in Sweden, for example, bans operations "on the external female genital organs which are designed to mutilate them or produce other permanent changes in them" regardless of consent. Gynaecologist Birgitta Essén and anthropologist Sara Johnsdotter argue that it seems the law distinguishes between Western and African genitals, and deems only African women (such as those seeking reinfibulation after childbirth) unfit to make their own decisions.
Arguing against these parallels, philosopher Martha Nussbaum writes that the key issue is that FGM is mostly conducted on children using physical force. She argues that the distinction between social pressure and physical force is always morally and legally salient, comparable to the distinction between seduction and rape. She argues further that the literacy of women in practising countries is generally poorer than in the Western world, and that this reduces their ability to make informed choices.
Several commentators maintain that children's rights are violated with the genital alteration of intersex children, who are born with anomalies that physicians choose to correct. Legal scholars Nancy Ehrenreich and Mark Barr write that thousands of these procedures take place every year in the United States, and argue that they are medically unnecessary, more extensive than FGM, and have more serious physical and mental consequences. They attribute the silence of anti-FGM campaigners about intersex procedures to white privilege, a refusal to acknowledge that "similar and harmful genital cutting occurs in their own backyards."
- "Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Accelerating Change", UNFPA–UNICEF, Annual Report 2012, p. 12; Andrew Masinde, "FGM: Despite the ban, the monster still rears its ugly head in Uganda", New Vision, Uganda, 5 February 2013.
- "Classification of female genital mutilation", World Health Organization, 2014.
- Claudia Capper, et al, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change, United Nations Children's Fund, July 2013 (hereafter UNICEF 2013), pp. 5, 9, 26–27.
- For 27 countries in Africa, as well as Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, UNICEF 2013, pp. 5, 9, 26–27.
For 125 million, UNICEF 2013, p. 22: "More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM/C is concentrated."
Also see p. 121, n. 62: "This estimate [125 million] is derived from weighted averages of FGM/C prevalence among girls aged 0 to 14 and girls and women aged 15 to 49, using the most recently available DHS, MICS and SHHS data (1997–2012) for the 29 countries where FGM/C is concentrated. The number of girls and women who have been cut was calculated using 2011 demographic figures produced by the UN Population Division ... The number of cut women aged 50 and older is based on FGM/C prevalence in women aged 45 to 49. Similar figures were obtained by Yoder and colleagues (Yoder, P. S., X. Wang and E. Johansen, 'Estimates of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in 27 African Countries and Yemen', Studies in Family Planning, vol. 44, no. 2, 2013, pp. 189–204). However, compared to the findings of Yoder and colleagues, the estimate presented in this report is based on more updated survey data, includes one more country (Iraq) and is calculated using actual prevalence data for girls aged 0 to 14."
- UNICEF 2013, p. 50.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 2.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 9; for the bans, UNFPA–UNICEF 2012, p. 12.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 8.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 44 for traditional circumciser, pp. 45–46 for anaesthetic, p. 46 for blade or razor.
P. Stanley Yoder, Shanxiao Wang, Elise Johansen, "Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting in 27 African countries and Yemen", Studies in Family Planning, 44(2), June 2013, pp. 189–204: "The practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) has been documented in many countries in Africa and in several countries in Asia and the Middle East ..."
For the 29 countries in which it is concentrated (27 countries in Africa, as well as Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan), UNICEF 2013, pp. 26–27.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 47, 50.
- Jasmine Abdulcadira, et al, "Care of women with female genital mutilation/cutting", Swiss Medical Weekly, 6(14), January 2011 (review), doi:10.4414/smw.2011.13137
- WHO 2008, p. 1: "Female genital mutilation has no known health benefits."
- Anika Rahman and Nahid Toubia, Female Genital Mutilation: A Guide to Laws and Policies Worldwide, Zed Books, 2000, pp. 5–6.
Gerry Mackie, "Ending Footbinding and Infibulation: A Convention Account", American Sociological Review, 61(6), December 1996 (pp. 999–1017, also here), pp. 999–1000.
- P. Stanley Yoder, Shane Khan, "Numbers of women circumcised in Africa: The Production of a Total", USAID, DHS Working Papers, No. 39, March 2008, pp. 13–14: "Infibulation is practiced largely in countries located in northeastern Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. ... [T]he estimate of the total number of women infibulated in [12 countries with data on infibulation for women 15-49 years old] comes to 8,245,449, or just over eight million women."
- For countries in which it is outlawed or restricted, UNICEF 2013, p. 8.
For enforcement, UNFPA–UNICEF 2012, p. 48: "Reports from 2012 suggest that successfully prosecuting those who violate laws against FGM/C is difficult. Even in cases where law enforcement officials make arrests, they often fail to collect the necessary evidence."
- "67/146. Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation", United Nations General Assembly, adopted 20 December 2012.
Emma Bonino, "Banning Female Genital Mutilation", The New York Times, 19 December 2012.
- Eric K. Silverman, "Anthropology and Circumcision", Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, 2004 (pp. 419–445), pp. 420, 427.
- Louisa Kasdon, "A Tradition No Longer, World & I, November–December 2005, p. 67.
- Martha Nussbaum, Sex and Social Justice, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 119; UNICEF 2013, pp. 6–7.
- James Karanja, The Missionary Movement in Colonial Kenya: The Foundation of Africa Inland Church, Cuvillier Verlag, 2009, p. 93, n. 631.
- Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, World Health Organization, 2008, p. 22.
- Rose Oldfield Hayes, "Female Genital Mutilation, Fertility Control, Women's Roles, and the Patrilineage in Modern Sudan: A Functional Analysis", American Ethnologist 2(4), November 1975, pp. 617–633.
Fran Hosken, The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females, Women's International Network, 1994 .
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 6–7.
- Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, "Introduction: The Custom in Question," in Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf (ed.), Female Circumcision: Multicultural Perspectives, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, p. 5.
"Eliminating Female genital mutilation: An Interagency Statement", OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO, 2008.
- WHO 2008, p. 22; for FGM/C, UNICEF 2013, p. 7; Abusharaf 2007 p. 6.
In 2014 the UN's Commission on the Status of Women agreed to stop referring to FGM as cutting; see Liz Ford, "Campaigners welcome 'milestone' agreement at UN gender equality talks", The Guardian, 23 March 2014.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 48.
- Fadwa El Guindi, "Had This Been Your Face, Would You Leave It as Is?" in Abusharaf 2007, p. 30.
- Chantal Zabus, "The Excised Body in African Texts and Contexts," in Merete Falck Borch (ed.), Bodies and Voices: The Force-field of Representation and Discourse in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Rodopi, 2008, p. 47.
- Mackie 1996, pp. 1004–1005.
- Chantal Zabus, "Between Rites and Rights: Excision on Trial in African Women's Texts and Human Contexts," in Peter H. Marsden and Geoffrey V. Davis (eds.), Towards a Transcultural Future: Literature and Human Rights in a ' Post'-Colonial World, Rodopi 2004, pp. 112–113.
- Ellen Gruenbaum, The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001, pp. 3, 148, 225.
- Raqiya D. Abdalla, "'My Grandmother Called it the Three Feminine Sorrows': The Struggle of Women Against Female Circumcision in Somalia," in Abusharaf 2007, p. 190.
- Raqiya D. Abdalla, Sisters in Affliction: Circumcision and Infibulation of Women in Africa, Zed Books, 1982, p. 10.
- Susan Elmusharaf, Nagla Elhadi, Lars Almroth, "Reliability of self reported form of female genital mutilation and WHO classification: cross sectional study", British Medical Journal, 332(7559), 27 June 2006, doi:10.1136/bmj.38873.649074.55: "The most severe form, infibulation and excision, or WHO type III, is also known as 'pharaonic circumcision' in Sudan and 'Sudanese circumcision' in Egypt."
For tahur faraowniya, Janice Boddy, Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan, Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 1.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 46.
- Michael Miller and Francesca Moneti, Changing a harmful social convention: female genital cutting/mutilation, Innocenti Digest, UNICEF 2005, p. 7: "The large majority of girls and women are cut by a traditional practitioner, a category which includes local specialists (cutters or exciseuses), traditional birth attendants and, generally, older members of the community, usually women. This is true for over 80 percent of the girls who undergo the practice in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Tanzania and Yemen. In most countries, medical personnel, including doctors, nurses and certified midwives, are not widely involved in the practice." Also see UNICEF 2013, pp. 42–44.
Amal Abd El Hadi, "Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt" in Meredeth Turshen (ed.), African Women's Health, Africa World Press, 2000, p. 148: "In the main dayas (female traditional birth attendants) and barbers (male traditional health workers) perform the circumcision, particularly in rural areas and popular urban areas."
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 43–45: "In some countries, such as Egypt, Sudan and Kenya ... a substantial number of health-care providers perform the procedure. This phenomenon is most acute in Egypt, where mothers report that in three out of four cases (77 per cent), FGM/C was performed on their daughters by a trained medical professional. In Egypt, this is most often a doctor, the only country where this holds true. In most countries where medical personnel play a significant role in performing FGM/C, nurses, midwives or other trained health personnel carry out the procedure" (p. 43). See p. 45 for the reference to 1997–2011 surveys.
- Elizabeth Kelly, Paula J. Hillard, "Female genital mutilation", Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 17(5), October 2005, pp. 490–494 (review), p. 491.
- Wairagala Wakabi, "Africa battles to make female genital mutilation history", The Lancet, 369 (9567), 31 March 2007, pp. 1069–1070.
- "Female Genital Mutilation: A Teachers' Guide", World Health Organization, 2005, p. 31: "FGM is carried out using special knives, scissors, razors, or pieces of glass. On rare occasions sharp stones have been reported to be used (e.g. in eastern Sudan), and cauterization (burning) is practised in some parts of Ethiopia. Finger nails have been used to pluck out the clitoris of babies in some areas in the Gambia. The instruments may be re-used without cleaning."
- UNICEF 2013, p. 3–7 (see p. 126 for the questions).
- Elmusharaf et al, 2006.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 48: "These categories do not fully match the WHO typology. Cut, no flesh removed describes a practice known as nicking or pricking, which currently is categorized as Type IV. Cut, some flesh removed corresponds to Type I (clitoridectomy) and Type II (excision) combined. And sewn closed corresponds to Type III, infibulation."
- "Classification of female genital mutilation", World Health Organization, 2014; "Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation", World Health Organization, 2008, pp. 4, 22–28. See p. 4, and Annex 2, p. 24, for the classification into Types I–IV; Annex 2, pp. 23–28, for a more detailed discussion.
- WHO 2008, p. 25: "[There is a] common tendency to describe Type I as removal of the prepuce, whereas this has not been documented as a traditional form of female genital mutilation. However, in some countries, medicalized female genital mutilation can include removal of the prepuce only (Type Ia) (Thabet and Thabet, 2003), but this form appears to be relatively rare (Satti et al, 2006). Almost all known forms of female genital mutilation that remove tissue from the clitoris also cut all or part of the clitoral glans itself."
Toubia 1994: "In my extensive clinical experience as a physician in Sudan, and after a careful review of the literature of the past 15 years, I have not found a single case of female circumcision in which only the skin surrounding the clitoris is removed, without damage to the clitoris itself."
Horowitz et al, letter: "The author states that there is no evidence that the clitoral prepuce is ever excised, without scarring, in a manner analogous to male circumcision. As health providers for refugees, we work with many Ethiopian and Eritrean women who underwent this form of circumcision as infants, just as their brothers were circumcised."
Toubia's reply: "During 20 years of clinical experience with thousands of women from Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, I have not seen a case of ritualistic childhood circumcision in which only the skin around the clitoris was removed, not the glans. As a pediatric surgeon, I cannot imagine how a traditional practitioner of circumcision could dissect and remove the few millimeters of skin in a screaming, unanesthetized girl. However, if such cases were appropriately documented, I would stand corrected and might suggest a different term."
- WHO 2014; WHO 2008, p. 4.
- Susan Izett, Nahid Toubia, Female Genital Mutilation: An Overview, World Health Organization, 1998.
- WHO 2014: "Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
"When it is important to distinguish between the major variations that have been documented, the following subdivisions are proposed: Type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; Type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; Type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora." Also see WHO 2008, p. 4.
- WHO 2014: "Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).
"Type IIIa, removal and apposition of the labia minora; Type IIIb, removal and apposition of the labia majora."
- Comfort Momoh, "Female genital mutilation" in Comfort Momoh (ed.), Female Genital Mutilation, Radcliffe Publishing, 2005, p. 7: "A piece of twig is inserted between the edges of the skin to ensure a patent foramen [opening] for urinary and menstrual flow."
Abdulcadira et al 2011: "In the case of infibulation, the urethral orifice and part of the vaginal opening are covered by the scar. In a virgin infibulated woman the small opening left for the menstrual blood and the urine is not wider than 2–3 mm; in sexually active women and after the delivery the vaginal opening is wider but the urethral orifice is often still covered by the scar."
- Kelly and Hillard 2005, p. 491 (Kelly and Hillard say the girls are tied for 2–6 weeks); Momoh 2005, pp. 6–7.
- El Guindi 2007, p. 43.
- Momoh 2005, p. 7.
For other descriptions, see Ismail 2009, pp. 12–14; Janice Boddy, Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men, and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan, University of Wisconsin Press, 1989, p. 50; Guy Pieters and Albert B. Lowenfels, "Infibulation in the Horn of Africa," New York State Journal of Medicine, 77(6), April 1977, pp. 729–731; Jacques Lantier, La Cité Magique et Magie En Afrique Noire, Libraire Fayard, 1972.
- Kelly and Hillard 2005, p. 491.
Also see R. J. I. Cooke, B. M. Dickens, "Special commentary on the issue of reinfibulation", International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 109(2), May 2010, pp. 97–99. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2010.01.004
- Kelly and Hillard 2005, p. 491: "In addition to reinfibulation, many women in Sudan undergo a second type of re-suturing called El-Adel, which is performed to recreate the size of the vaginal orifice to be similar to the size created at the time of primary infibulation. Two small cuts are made around the vaginal orifice to expose new tissues to suture, and then sutures are placed to tighten the vaginal orifice and perineum. This procedure, also called re-circumcision, is primarily performed after vaginal delivery, but can also be performed before marriage, after cesarean section, after divorce, and sometimes even in elderly women as a preparation before death."
- Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "The Sexual Experience and Marital Adjustment of Genitally Circumcised and Infibulated Females in The Sudan", The Journal of Sex Research, 26(3), 1989 (pp. 375–392), p. 380. Note: a paragraph break has been added for ease of reading.
Also see Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Prisoners of Ritual: An Odyssey Into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa, Routledge, 1989.
- WHO 2008, p. 24; UNICEF 2013, p. 7.
- Mairo Usman Mandara, "Female genital cutting in Nigeria: View of Nigerian Doctors on the Medicalization Debate," in Shell-Duncan and Hernlund, 2000, p. 95ff.
Also see Stanlie M. James, "Female Genital Mutilation," in Bonnie G. Smith (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Women in World History, Oxford University Press, 2008 (pp. 259–262), p. 259.
- "Female Genital Mutilation: A Teachers' Guide", World Health Organization, 2005, p. 31: "In some areas (e.g. parts of Congo and mainland Tanzania), FGM entails the pulling of the labia minora and/or clitoris over a period of about 2 to 3 weeks. The procedure is initiated by an old woman designated for this task, who puts sticks of a special type in place to hold the stretched genital parts so that they do not revert back to their original size. The girl is instructed to pull her genitalia every day, to stretch them further, and to put additional sticks in to hold the stretched parts from time to time. This pulling procedure is repeated daily for a period of about two weeks, and usually no more than four sticks are used to hold the stretched parts, as further pulling and stretching would make the genital parts unacceptably long."
- "The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children", Global Fund for Women, accessed 25 July 2014; for 76 percent, UNICEF 2013, p. 2.
- UNICEF 2005, p. 16.
- Kelly and Hillard 2005, pp. 491–492
- Amish J. Dave, Aisha Sethi, Aldo Morrone, "Female Genital Mutilation: What Every American Dermatologist Needs to Know", Dermatologic Clinics, 29(1), January 2011, pp. 103–109 (review).
- Stephanie Sinclair, "Inside a Female-Circumcision Ceremony", The New York Times magazine, April 2006, slideshow of images from Indonesia (article).
- E. Banks, et al, "Female genital mutilation and obstetric outcome: WHO collaborative prospective study in six African countries", The Lancet, 367(9525), 3 June 2006, pp. 1835–1841. For the WHO press release about the study, see "New study shows female genital mutilation exposes women and babies to significant risk at childbirth", World Health Organization, 2 June 2006.
- Rigmor C. Berg, Eva Denisona, "A Tradition in Transition: Factors Perpetuating and Hindering the Continuance of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Summarized in a Systematic Review", Health Care for Women International, 34(10), 2013 (review), doi:10.1080/07399332.2012.721417.
- Boyle 2002, pp. 34–35.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 26–27.
- Gerry Mackie, John LeJeune, "Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A New Look at the Theory", Innocenti Working Paper No. 2008-XXX, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2008, p. 5.
- T. C. Okeke, et al, "An Overview of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria", Annals of Medical Health Sciences Research, 2(1), Jan–June 2012, pp. 70–73. Note: this source uses an alternate English name (Fulani) for the Fula in reporting its data; other names in use are Peulh, Poular and Fulbe (see UNICEF 2013, p. 35).
For population, "Nigeria over 167 million population: Implications and Challenges", National Population Commission, Nigeria.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 22.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 3–5 (see the table on p. 5 for how recent the data is); for 125 million, pp. 22, 121, n. 62.
For more on UNICEF's data collection, "Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)", UNICEF, 25 May 2012.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 34.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 28–37.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 27 (for eight percent), 31 (for the regions).
Berivan A. Yasin, et al, "Female genital mutilation among Iraqi Kurdish women: a cross-sectional study from Erbil city", BMC Public Health, 13, September 2013. This found that 58.6 percent of women aged 15–49 had experienced FGM (99.6 percent had Type I), although 70.3 percent reported that they had experienced it.
- For Guinea and Chad, UNICEF 2013, pp. 35–36.
For Fulani in Nigeria, Okeke, et al 2012, pp. 70–73. It is practised there by the Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Ibo, Ijaw, and Kanuri people.
- For rural areas, UNICEF 2013, p. 28; for wealth, p. 40; for education, p. 41.
- WHO 2008, pp. 29–30.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 23: "Although no nationally representative data on FGM/C are available for countries including Colombia, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, evidence suggests that the procedure is being performed."
For Indonesia, Abigail Haworth, "The day I saw 248 girls suffering genital mutilation", The Observer, 18 November 2012.
For Saudi Arabia, S. A. Alsibiani and A. A. Rouzi, "Sexual function in women with female genital mutilation", Fertility and Sterility, 93(3), February 2010, pp. 722–724. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.10.035 Also see James Randerson, "Female genital mutilation denies sexual pleasure to millions of women", The Guardian, 13 November 2008.
For Australia, etc, Abdulcadira 2011.
- For both I and II, Mohammed A Tag-Eldin, "Prevalence of female genital cutting among Egyptian girls", Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(4), April 2008.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 46, 48.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 50.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 50.
- Gerry Mackie, "Female Genital Cutting: The Beginning of the End," in Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund (eds.), Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture Controversy and Change, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000 (pp. 253–282), p. 275 (also here).
- UNICEF 2005, p. 6.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 51.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 101.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 99.
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: What Might the Future Hold?, UNICEF, 22 July 2014.
"Fewer girls threatened by Female Genital Mutilation", UNICEF, 6 February 2013; UNICEF 2013, p. 101.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 99. For percentages, p. 101.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 85. Also see p. 113.
For example, UNICEF writes (p. 85), in Mauritania, where the mean age at cutting is one month old, the 15–19 cohort are reporting events from 15–19 years ago, whereas in Egypt, where the mean age is 10 years, the cutting for the same group occurred 5–9 years ago.
- Salah M. Rasheedemail, Ahmed H. Abd-Ellah, Fouad M. Yousef, "Female genital mutilation in Upper Egypt in the new millennium", International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 114(1), July 2011, pp. 47–50. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.02.003
- UNICEF 2013, p. 23: "The percentage of girls and women of reproductive age (15 to 49) who have experienced any form of FGM/C is the first indicator used to show how widespread the practice is in a particular country ... In the 29 countries where FGM/C is concentrated, almost all girls are cut before the age of 15. Thus, prevalence data among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are considered to reflect their final FGM/C status.
"A second indicator of national prevalence measures the extent of cutting among daughters aged 0 to 14, as reported by their mothers. Prevalence data for girls reflect their current – not final – FGM/C status, since many of them may not have reached the customary age for cutting at the time of the survey. They are reported as being uncut but are still at risk of undergoing the procedure. Statistics for girls under age 15 therefore need to be interpreted with a high degree of caution ..."
- UNICEF 2013, p. 25; also see p. 100.
- Abusharaf 2007, p. 8; WHO 2013.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 67; also see Mackie and LeJeune 2008, pp. 9–11.
- Rahman and Toubia 2000, pp. 5–6.
- Gruenbaum 2001, p. 140; also see Boddy 1989, p. 52.
- M. Martinelli, J. E. Ollé-Goig, "Female genital mutilation in Djibouti", African Health Sciences, 12(4), December 2012.
- For the baby's head, Gruenbaum 2001, p. 196; for the rest, J. Steven Svoboda, "The Limits of the Law: Comparative Analysis of Legal and Extralegal Methods to Control Child Body Mutilation Practices," in George C. Denniston, et al, Understanding Circumcision, Springer, 2001, p. 325.
- Sarah Windle, et al, "Harmful Traditional Practices and Women's Health: Female Genital Mutilation" in John Erihi (ed.), Maternal and Child Health: Global Challenges, Programs, and Policies, Springer 2009, p. 180.
- Mackie 2000, p. 256; Mackie 1996, pp. 999–1000: "Footbinding and infibulation correspond as follows. Both customs are nearly universal where practiced; they are persistent and are practiced even by those who oppose them. Both control sexual access to females and ensure female chastity and fidelity. Both are necessary for proper marriage and family honor. Both are believed to be sanctioned by tradition. Both are said to be ethnic markers, and distinct ethnic minorities may lack the practices. Both seem to have a past of contagious diffusion. Both are exaggerated over time and both increase with status. Both are supported and transmitted by women, are performed on girls about six to eight years old, and are generally not initiation rites. Both are believed to promote health and fertility. Both are defined as aesthetically pleasing compared with the natural alternative. Both are said to properly exaggerate the complementarity of the sexes, and both are claimed to make intercourse more pleasurable for the male."
- Abdalla 2007, p. 187.
- Hayes 1975, pp. 620, 624.
- El Dareer 1983, p. 140.
Also see Vicky Kirby, "Out of Africa: 'Our Bodies Ourselves'?" in Obioma Nnaemeka (ed.), Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, Praeger, 2005, p. 84.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 54, 90.
- El Guindi 2007, pp. 36–37.
- Izett and Toubia 1998, citing Anne van der Kwaak, "Female circumcision and gender identity: a questionable alliance," Social Science and Medicine, 1992, 35, pp. 777–787.
- Waris Dirie, Desert Flower, William Morrow, 1998, p. 220.
- Elizabeth Heger Boyle, Female Genital Cutting: Cultural Conflict in the Global Community, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, p. 37.
For Tanzania, Boyle cites R. Mabala, S. R. Kamazima, The Girl Child in Tanzania: Today's Girl, Tomorrow's Woman, A Research Report, UNICEF, Dar es Salaam, 1995.
- Mackie 2003, pp. 147–148.
- UNFPA–UNICEF 2012, p. 18.
Gerry Mackie, John LeJeune, "Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A New Look at the Theory", Innocenti Working Paper No. 2009-06, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, May 2009.
- Mackie 2000, pp. 253, 256–261; Jean Faraca, "Confronting Female Genital Cutting", Wisconsin Public Radio, interview with Molly Melching and Gerry Mackie, 3 November 2011, from 2:43 mins.
Nafissatou J. Diop, Amadou Moreau, Hélène Benga, "Evaluation of the Long-term Impact of the TOSTAN Programme on the Abandonment of FGM/C and Early Marriage: Results from a qualitative study in Senega", UNICEF, January 2008.
For Mackie's connection, Kwame Anthony Appiah, "The Art of Social Change", The New York Times Magazine, 22 October 2010, p. 2.
Also see UNICEF-UNFPA 2012, pp. 21–22.
- UNICEF 2013, pp. 69–70; table on p. 71.
- Mackie and LeJeune 2008, p. 8: "Data on the role of religion are difficult to interpret because in many cases, religion, tradition and chastity are not differentiated."
- Mackie 1996, p. 1004.
- Mackie 1996, pp. 1004–1005: "The Koran is silent on FGM, but several hadith (sayings attributed to Mohammed) recommend attenuating the practice for the woman's sake, praise it as noble but not commanded, or advise that female converts refrain from mutilation because even if pleasing to the husband it is painful to the wife"; Nussbaum 1999, p. 125: "The one reference to the operation in the hadith classifies it as a makrama, or nonessential practice."
- Mackie, p. 1008: "FGM is pre-Islamic but was exaggerated by its intersection with the Islamic modesty code of family honor, female purity, virginity, chastity, fidelity, and seclusion."
Also see Ibrahim Lethome Asmani, Maryam Sheikh Abdi, "Delinking Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting from Islam", USAID/UNFPA, 2008.
- "Fresh progress toward the elimination of female genital mutilation and cutting in Egypt", UNICEF, 2 July 2007; UNICEF 2013, p. 70.
Maggie Michael, "Egypt Officials Ban Female Circumcision", The Associated Press, 29 June 2007, p. 2: "[Egypt's] supreme religious authorities stressed that Islam is against female circumcision. It's prohibited, prohibited, prohibited," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said on the privately owned al-Mahwar network."
- For animist groups, UNICEF 2013, p. 175; for Christians, p. 73.
- UNICEF 2013, front page: "Niger. 55% of Christian girls and women have undergone FGM/C, compared to 2% of Muslim girls and women," and p. 73.
- Samuel Waje Kunhiyop, African Christian Ethics, Zondervan, 2008, p. 297: "Nowhere in all of Scripture or in any of recorded church history is there even a hint that women were to be circumcised."
For missionaries, Jocelyn Murray, "The Church Missionary Society and the 'Female Circumcision' Issue in Kenya 1929-1932", Journal of Religion in Africa, 8(2), 1976, pp. 92–104; Janice Boddy, Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan, Princeton University Press, 2007.
- Shaye J. D. Cohen, Why Aren't Jewish Women Circumcised? Gender and Covenant In Judaism, University of California Press, 2005, p. 59; Adele Berlin (ed.), "Circumcision," The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 173.
- Mary Knight, "Curing Cut or Ritual Mutilation?: Some Remarks on the Practice of Female and Male Circumcision in Graeco-Roman Egypt", Isis, 92(2), June 2001 (pp. 317–338), p. 330. Knight references Egyptian Museum sarcophagus cat. no. 28085.
Also see Adriaan de Buck and Alan H. Gardiner, The Egyptian Coffin Texts, Chicago University Press, 1961, Vol. 7, pp. 448–450.
- Mackie 1996, p. 1003; Abusharaf 2007, p. 2.
- Mackie 2000, pp. 264, 267; UNICEF 2013, p. 30; Shell-Duncan and Hernlund 2000, p. 13.
Mackie 1996, p. 1003: FGM's distribution suggests an origin "on the western coast of the Red Sea, where infibulation is most intense, diminishing to clitoridectomy in westward and southward radiation."
Also see C. G. Seligman, "Aspects of the Hamitic problems in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan",The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1913, 40(3), (pp. 593–705), pp. 612, 639–640; Esther K. Hicks, Infibulation: Female Mutilation in Islamic Northeastern Africa, Transaction Publishers, 1996, p. 19ff.
- Knight 2001, p. 330. For the hieroglyphs, Paul F. O'Rourke, "The 'm't-Woman", Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 134(2), February 2007.
Knight adds that Egyptologists are uncomfortable with the translation to uncircumcised, because there is no information about what constituted the circumcised state.
- O'Rourke 2007, p. 172.
- Knight 2001, pp. 329–330; F. G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, British museum, 1893, pp. 31–32 (also here).
- Knight 2001, p. 331, citing G. Elliot Smith, A Contribution to the Study of Mummification in Egypt, 1906, p. 30.
Knight also quotes Marc Armand Ruffer, Studies in the Paleopathology of Egypt, University of Chicago Press, 1921, p. 171: "[T]he bodies are in such a state that it would often be difficult to state with certainty whether such an operation had been done." Knight adds: "In light of the fact that only rarely have scientific researchers autopsying mummies specifically looked for the presence or absence of FGM, conclusive remarks about the prevalence of the practice must await a detailed study of a large cohort of female mummies."
- Knight 2001, p. 318.
Strabo, Geography of Strabo, Book VII, chapter 2, 17.2.5, wrote: "One of the customs most zealously observed among the Aegyptians is this, that they rear every child that is born, and circumcise [peritemnein] the males, and excise [ektemnein] the females, as is also customary among the Jews, who are also Aegyptians in origin, as I have already stated in my account of them."
Strabo, Geography of Strabo, Book XVI, chapter 4, 16.4.9: "And then to the Harbour of Antiphilus, and, above this, to the Creophagi [meat-eaters], of whom the males have their sexual glands mutilated [kolobos] and the women are excised [ektemnein] in the Jewish fashion." A different translation here reads: "Then follows the harbour of Antiphilus, and above this a tribe, the Creophagi, deprived of the prepuce, and the women are excised after the Jewish custom."
Cohen 2005, p. 59ff, argues that Strabo conflated the Jews with the Egyptians. Jacob Neusner, Approaches to Ancient Judaism, Volume 4, Scholars Press, 1993, p. 148: "the Greek verb περιτέμνειν [peritemnein] 'to cut around/off,' denoted not only circumcision but could be used of any mutilation of body parts, such as the severing of a nose or ears; in Herodotus it is associated with various barbarian practices."
Knight 2001, p. 326, writes that there is one extant reference from antiquity, from Xanthus of Lydia in the fifth century BCE, that may allude to FGM outside Egypt. Xanthus wrote, in a history of Lydia: "The Lydians arrived at such a state of delicacy that they were even the first to 'castrate' their women." Knight argues that the "castration," which is not described, may have kept women youthful, in the sense of allowing the Lydian king to have intercourse with them without pregnancy. Knight concludes that it may have been a reference to sterilization, not FGM.
- Knight 2001, p. 333.
- Knight 2001, p. 326 (Knight writes that the attribution to Galen is suspect).
- Knight 2001, pp. 327–328. A paragraph break has been added for ease of reading.
- Mackie 1996, p. 1003: "Whatever the earliest origins of FGM, there is certainly an association between infibulation and slavery."
- Mackie 1996, p. 1003, citing João dos Santos, Ethiopia Oriental, 1609, in G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville (ed.), The East-African Coast: Select Documents from the First to the Earlier Nineteenth Century, Clarendon Press, 1962.
- Mackie 1996, p. 1003. Footnote 4: The Swedish ethnographer, Carl Gösta Widstrand ("Female Infibulation," Studia Ethnographica Upsaliensia, XX, 1960, pp. 95–124) argued that slave traders had simply paid a higher price for women who were already infibulated.
- Mackie 1996, p. 1009.
- J. F. C. "Isaac Baker Brown, F.R.C.S.," Medical Times and Gazette, 8 February 1873, p. 155; Peter Lewis Allen, The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present, University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 106.
- Sarah W. Rodriguez, "Rethinking the history of female circumcision and clitoridectomy: American medicine and female sexuality in the late nineteenth century", Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 63(3), July 2008, pp. 323–347.
- Robert Thomas, The Modern Practice of Physick, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1813, pp. 585–586.
Edward Shorter, From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era, Simon and Schuster, 2008, p. 82.
- Uriel Elchalal, et al, "Ritualistic Female Genital Mutilation: Current Status and Future Outlook", Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 52(10), October 1997, pp. 643–651.
- John Black, "Female genital mutilation: a contemporary issue, and a Victorian obsession", Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 90, July 1997 (pp. 402–405), p. 403, 404–405; Lewis 2000, p. 106.
Elizabeth Sheehan, "Victorian Clitoridectomy: Isaac Baker Brown and His Harmless Operative Procedure", Medical Anthropology Newsletter, 12(4), August 1981.
- Deborah Kuhn McGregor, From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology, Rutgers University Press, 1998, p. 146.
- G. J. Barker-Benfield, The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century America, Routledge, 1999, p. 113.
- L. P. Cutner, "Female genital mutilation", Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 40(7), July 1985, pp. 437–443, cited in Nawal M. Nour, "Female Genital Cutting: A Persisting Practice", Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1(3), Summer 2008, pp. 135–139.
- Kenneth Mufuka, "Scottish Missionaries and the Circumcision Controversy in Kenya, 1900–1960", International Review of Scottish Studies, 28, 2003, p. 55.
- Lynn M. Thomas,"'Ngaitana (I will circumcise myself)': Lessons from Colonial Campaigns to Ban Excision in Meru, Kenya" in Shell-Duncan and Hernlund, 2000, p. 132.
For irua, Jomo Kenyatta, Facing Mount Kenya, Vintage, 1962 , p. 129; for irugu being outcasts, Kenyatta, p. 127, and Zabus 2008, pp. 48–49.
- Kenyatta 1962 , pp. 127–130.
- Klaus Fiedler, Christianity and African Culture, Brill, 1996, p. 75.
- Boddy 2007, pp. 241–245.
Also see Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, Manchester University Press, 1990; Jocelyn Murray, "The Church Missionary Society and the 'Female Circumcision' Issue in Kenya 1929-1932", Journal of Religion in Africa, 8(2), 1976, pp. 92–104.
- Thomas 2000, p. 132; for the "sexual mutilation of women," Karanja 2009, p. 93, n. 631.
Also see Robert Strayer, Jocelyn Murray, "The CMS and Female Circumcision," in Robert Strayer (ed.), The Making of Missionary Communities in East Africa, SUNY Press, 1978, p. 139ff.
- Boddy 2007, p. 241.
- Thomas 2000, pp. 129–131 (p. 131 for the girls as "central actors"); Lynn Thomas, Politics of the Womb: Women, Reproduction, and the State in Kenya, University of California Press, 2003, pp. 89–91.
Also see Lynn M. Thomas, "'Ngaitana (I will circumcise myself)': The Gender and Generational Politics of the 1956 Ban on Clitoridectomy in Meru, Kenya", Gender and History, 8(3), November 1996, pp. 338–363.
Kenya criminalized FGM in 2001 for the under-18s and banned it from state-run facilities, then banned it completely with the Prohibition of FGM Act 2011. See UNICEF-UNFPA 2012, pp. 12, 14; Sarah Boseley, "FGM: Kenya acts against unkindest cut", The Guardian, 8 September 2011.
- UNICEF 2013, p. 10, calls the Egyptian Doctors' Society opposition the "first known campaign" against FGM; for independence, Boddy 2007, p. 147.
- Boddy 2007, pp. 202, 299. FGM is still practised in Sudan, where 88 percent of women and girls have been cut; some states banned it in 2008–2009, but as of 2013 there was no national legislation; see UNICEF 2013, pp. 2, 9.
- Boyle 2002, pp. 92, 103.
- Boyle 2002, p. 41.
- Birgitte Bagnol, Esmeralda Mariano, "Politics of naming sexual practices," in Sylvia Tamale (ed.), African Sexualities: A Reader, Pambazuka Press, 2011, p. 281.
- Gruenbaum 2001, p. 22.
Homa Khaleeli, "Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt's radical feminist", The Guardian, 15 April 2010.
- Nawal El Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve, Zed Books, 2007 , p. 14; Krajeski (The New Yorker), 7 March 2011.
- Oldfield Hayes 1975, p. 618; Gruenbaum 2001, p. 21.
- Yoder and Khan (USAID) 2008, p. 2.
Fran Hosken, The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females, Women's International Network, 1994 ; also see Joseph P. Khan, "Fran P. Hosken, 86; activist for women's issues globally", The Boston Globe, 12 February 2006.
- Mackie 2003, p. 139.
- Hosken 1994 , p. 5.
- Boyle 2002, p. 47; Bagnol and Mariano 2011, p. 281.
- Rahman and Toubia 2000, p. 10; UNICEF 2013 p. 8; Toubia 1994.
- Emma Bonino, "A brutal custom: Join forces to banish the mutilation of women", The New York Times, 15 September 2004.
Maputo Protocol, pp. 7–8.
- For example, UNICEF 2013 lists Mauritania as having passed legislation against FGM, but (as of that year) it is banned only from being conducted in government facilities or by medical personnel. See UNICEF 2013, p. 8.
Benin (2003), Burkina Faso (1996*), Central African Republic (1966, amended 1996), Chad (2003), Côte d'Ivoire (1998), Djibouti (1995, amended 2009*), Egypt (2008*), Eritrea (2007*), Ethiopia (2004*), Ghana (1965, amended 2007), Guinea (1965, amended 2000*), Guinea-Bissau (2011*), Kenya (2001, amended 2011*), Mauritania (2005), Niger (2003), Nigeria, some states (1999–2006), Senegal (1999*), Somalia (2012*), Sudan, some states (2008–2009), Tanzania (1998), Togo (1998) and Uganda (2010*).
South Africa and Zambia have outlawed it, but are not among the countries in which it is concentrated. Outside Africa it is concentrated in Yemen (2001) and Iraqi Kurdistan (2011), both of which have passed legislation against it.
- For CNN, Salam 1999, p. 322.
For the ruling, UNICEF 2013, p. 70. "Fresh progress toward the elimination of female genital mutilation and cutting in Egypt", UNICEF, 2 July 2007.
Maggie Michael, "Egypt Officials Ban Female Circumcision", The Associated Press, 29 June 2007, p. 2.
- Patrick Kingsley, "Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case", The Guardian, 21 May 2014.
- Charlotte Feldman-Jacobs, "Commemorating International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation", Population Reference Bureau, February 2009.
- "UNFPA–UNICEF Joint Programme on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Accelerating Change", Volume 1, 2008–2012, September 2013, p. viii.
- UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme evaluation report (2008–2013), p. 38.
- Joint Programme on the Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. Funding Proposal for a Phase II, UNFPA–UNICEF.
- 2013 UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programm evaluation report (2008–2013), pp. 4, 16–17; for alternative rites of passage and the Saleema initiative, pp. 22–23.
- UNFPA–UNICEF 2012, p. 48.
- UNFPA–UNICEF 2012, pp. 12–13.
- UNICEF 2005, p. 4: "Beyond economic factors, migratory patterns have frequently reflected links established in the colonial past. For instance, citizens from Benin, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal have often chosen France as their destination, while many Kenyan, Nigerian and Ugandan citizens have migrated to the United Kingdom.
"In the 1970s, war, civil unrest and drought in a number of African states, including Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, resulted in an influx of refugees to Western Europe, where some countries, such as Norway and Sweden, had been relatively unaffected by migration up to that point. Beyond Western Europe, Canada and the USA in North America, and Australia and New Zealand in Australasia also host women and children who have been subjected to FGM/C, and are home to others who are at risk of undergoing this procedure."
- Birgitta Essén, Sara Johnsdotter, "Female Genital Mutilation in the West: Traditional Circumcision versus Genital Cosmetic Surgery", Acta Obstetricia Gynecologica Scandinavica, 83(7), July 2004 (pp. 611–613), p. 611.
- Boyle 2002 p. 97.
- "Review of Australia's Female Genital Mutilation Legal Framework", Attorney General's Department, Government of Australia; "Section 204A – Female genital mutilation – Crimes Act 1961", New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office.
"Eliminating female genital mutilation", European Commission; "18 U.S. Code § 116 - Female genital mutilation", Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School; Section 268, Criminal Code of Canada.
- "Efua Dorkenoo", The Huffington Post; Efua Dorkenoo, Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation, the Practice and its Prevention, Minority Rights Group, 1994.
- Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Canada Gives Somali Mother Refugee Status", The New York Times, 21 July 1994.
- Section 268, Criminal Code of Canada; UNICEF 2013, p. 8.
Also see Audrey Macklin, "The Double-Edged Sword: Using the Criminal Law Against Female Genital Mutilation," in Abusharaf 2007, p. 211ff.
- Mobina S. B. Jaffer, "Criminal Code, Bill to Amend – Second Reading, Debates of the Senate (Hansard), 1st Session, 41st Parliament, 148(79), 15 May 2012: "Another example of legislation that was honourable in principle but lacked the resources to be effective was the one that criminalized female genital mutilation. In 1995, in the Second Session of the Thirty-fifth Parliament, Bill C-27 was passed making female genital mutilation a criminal act; therefore, in Canada this practice is considered a criminal offence. Those who perform this procedure can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada. Unfortunately, over the past 17 years not one conviction has been made, even though there is evidence indicating that this practice still takes place in Canada."
- Megan Rowling "France reduces genital cutting with prevention, prosecutions – lawyer", Thomson Reuters Foundation, 27 September 2012.
- Renée Kool1 and Sohail Wahedi, "Criminal Enforcement in the Area of Female Genital Mutilation in France, England and the Netherlands: A Comparative Law Perspective", International Law Research, 3(1), 2014, p. 4.
- Rowling 2012.
John Lichfield, "The French way: a better approach to fighting FGM?", The Independent, 15 December 2013.
- Colette Gallard, "Female genital mutilation in France", British Medical Journal, 310, 17 June 1995, p. 1592. That one was three months old, Rowling 2012.
- For 1982, Gallard (BMJ) 1995, p. 1593; for 1993, Farnsworth (New York Times) 1994.
- David Gollaher, Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery, Basic Books, 2000, p. 189.
- Alison Macfarlane and Efua Dorkenoo, "Female Genital Mutilation in England and Wales", City University of London and Equality Now, 21 July 2014, p. 3.
Also see "Female Genital Mutilation: Report of a Research Methodological Workshop on Estimating the Prevalence of FGM in England and Wales", Equality Now, 22–23 March 2012.
For an earlier report, Efua Dorkenoo, Linda Morison, Alison Macfarlane, "A Statistical Study to Estimate the Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in England and Wales", FORWARD, October 2007.
For an early article about FGM in the UK, J. A. Black, G. D. Debelle, "Female genital mutilation in Britain", British Medical Journal, 310, 17 June 1995.
- Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003: "A person is guilty of an offence if he excises, infibulates or otherwise mutilates the whole or any part of a girl's labia majora, labia minora or clitoris," unless "necessary for her physical or mental health."
Although the legislation refers to girls, it applies to women too. See "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003", legislation.gov.uk, and "Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003" (legal guidance), Crown Prosecution Service: "The Act refers to 'girls', though it also applies to women."
- "Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 26 July 2013, p. 6, paras 36, 37.
- "FGM: UK's first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced", BBC News, 21 March 2014.
- Wanda K. Jones, et al, "Female Genital Mutilation/Female Circumcision: Who Is at Risk in the U.S.?", Public Health Reports, 112, September/October 1997 (pp. 368–377), p. 372.
- For Nigerian woman, Patricia Dysart Rudloff, "In Re: Oluloro: Risk of female genital mutilation as 'extreme hardship' in immigration proceedings", 26 Saint Mary's Law Journal, 877, 1995.
For Fauziya Kasinga, Nussbaum 1999, pp. 118–119.
Celia W. Dugger, "June 9–15; Asylum From Mutilation",The New York Times, 16 June 1996.
"In re Fauziya KASINGA, file A73 476 695", U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, decided 13 June 1996.
- For Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, Abusharaf 2007, p. 22; "18 U.S. Code § 116 – Female genital mutilation", Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School.
Susan Deller Ross, Women's Human Rights: The International and Comparative Law Casebook, Vantage Press, 2008, p. 509–511; "Legislation on Female Genital Mutilation in the United States", Center for Reproductive Rights, November 2004, p. 3.
For Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act, "One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America", 3 January 2012, Sec 1088, p. 339.
- "Man gets 10-year sentence for circumcision of 2-year-old daughter", Associated Press, 1 November 2006.
In 2014 President Barack Obama spoke about FGM for the first time, calling it "a tradition that's barbaric and should be eliminated." See Nedra Pickler, "Obama To Rename Africa Young Leaders Program For Nelson Mandela", Huffington Post, 28 July 2014.
- Silverman 2004, p. 427.
- Silverman 2004, p. 420.
- Richard Shweder, "'What About Female Genital Mutilation?' And Why Understanding Culture Matters in the First Place," Daedalus, 129(4)], Fall 2000 (pp. 209–232), p. 212.
- Silverman 2004, p. 431.
- Christine J. Walley, "Searching for 'Voices': Feminism, Anthropology, and the Global Over Female Genital Operations" in Stanlie M. James and Claire C. Robertson (eds.), Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood, University of Illinois Press, 2002, pp. 18, 43.
- Walley 2002, p. 34.
- Bagnol and Mariano 2011, p. 281.
- Stanlie M. James, "Listening to Other(ed) Voices: Reflections around Female Genital Cutting," in Stanlie M. James and Claire C. Robertson (eds.), Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood, University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 89.
- That choice of terminology matters, Shell-Duncan and Hernlund 2000, p. 2; Silverman 2004, p. 428.
For circumcision, cutting and mutilation, Silverman 2004, p. 428, and terminology section above.
For "traditional women's practices," Bilkis Vissandjée, "Female genital cutting (FGC) and the ethics of care: community engagement and cultural sensitivity at the interface of migration experiences", BMC International Health and Human Rights, 14, April 2014, p. 13. doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-13
For gratuitous and invidious label, Richard Shweder, "When Cultures Collide: Which Rights? Whose Tradition of Values? A Critique of the Global Anti-FGM Campaign," in Christopher L. Eisgruber and András Sajó (eds.), Global Justice And the Bulwarks of Localism, Martinus Nijhoff, 2005 (pp. 181–199), p. 183. He refers to "the global campaign against what has been gratuitously and invidiously labeled 'female genital mutilation' ..."
- Boddy 2007, p. 3.
Carla Obermeyer, "Female Genital Surgeries: The Known, the Unknown and the Unknowable", Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 31(1), 1999 (pp. 79–106), pp. 92–93.
For Gruenbaum, see Boddy 2007, p. 3, and Shell-Duncan and Hernlund 2000, p. 24.
Ahmadu 2000, p. 283ff.
- Shweder 2005, p. 193.
- Ahmadu 2000, pp. 284–285.
- Silverman 2004, p. 429.
- Sylvia Tamale, "Researching and theorising sexualities," in Sylvia Tamale (ed.), African Sexualities: A Reader, Fahamu/Pambazuka, 2011, pp. 19–20.
- "Stephanie Welsh", 1996 Pulitzer Prize winners
- Chima Korieh, "'Other' Bodies: Western Feminism, Race and Representation in Female Circumcision Discourse," in Obioma Nnaemeka (ed.), Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, Praeger, 2005, pp. 121–122.
For the photographs, "Stephanie Welsh", 1996 Pulitzer Prize winners.
- Shweder 2005, p. 187; Shweder 2002, pp. 218–219; Obermeyer 1999, pp. 92–93: "On the basis of the vast literature on the harmful effects of genital surgeries, one might have anticipated finding a wealth of studies that document considerable increases in mortality and morbidity. This review could find no incontrovertible evidence on mortality, and the rate of medical complications suggests that they are the exception rather than the rule."
Carla Obermeyer, "The Health Consequences of Female Circumcision: Science, Advocacy, and Standards of Evidence", Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 17(3), September 2002.
Carla Obermeyer, "The Consequences of Female Circumcision for Health and Sexuality: An Update on the Evidence", Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 7(5), September–October 2005.
- Mackie 2003, p. 137.
- Sweder 2005, pp. 187–189; Linda Morison, et al, "The long-term reproductive health consequences of female genital cutting in rural Gambia: a community-based survey", Tropical Medicine & International Health, 6(8), August 2001, pp. 643–653.
- Sara Johnsdotter and Birgitta Essén, "Genitals and ethnicity: the politics of genital modifications", Reproductive Health Matters, 18(35), 2010 (pp. 29–37), p. 32; Samar A. Farage, "Female Genital Alteration: A Sociological Perspective," in Miranda A. Farage and Howard I. Maibach (eds.), The Vulva: Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology, CRC Press, 2006, p. 267; Marge Berer, "It's female genital mutilation and should be prosecuted", British Medical Journal, 334(7608), 30 June 2007, p. 1335.
- Ronán M. Conroy, "Female genital mutilation: whose problem, whose solution?", British Medical Journal, 333(7559), 15 July 2006.
- El Guindi 2007, pp. 33–34.
- Lora Wildenthal, The Language of Human Rights in West Germany, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, p. 148.
- Obermeyer 1999, p. 94.
- WHO 2008, p. 28.
- Johnsdotter and Essén 2010, p. 32.
- Johnsdotter and Essén 2010, p. 33; Essén and Johnsdotter 2004, p. 613.
- Nussbaum 1999, pp. 123–124.
- Nancy Ehrenreich, Mark Barr, "Intersex Surgery, Female Genital Cutting, and the Selective Condemnation of 'Cultural Practices'", Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 40(1), 2005 (pp. 71–140), pp. 74–75.
Also see Cheryl Chase, "'Cultural Practice' or 'Reconstructive Surgery'? US Genital Cutting, the Intersex Movement, and Medical Double Standards," in Stanlie M. James and Claire C. Robertson (eds.), Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood, University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 126ff.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Female genital mutilation.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Female genital mutilation|
- Desert Flower Foundation, first dedicated FGM clinic in Europe.
- FORWARD, London, charity specializing in FGM (FORWARD's list of UK clinics offering specialist FGM services).
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, UK, 24-hour national helpline for children at risk of FGM: 0800 028 3550
- Tahirih Justice Center, provides medical/legal services in the US to immigrant women fleeing gender-based persecution.
- The Girl Generation, campaign to end FGM.
- FGM archive; "The facts about female genital mutilation – interactive", interactive display with facts and figures from UNICEF, The Guardian, 22 July 2013.
- "Circumcision, female", The Kinsey Institute (bibliography 1960s–1980s).
- Westley, David M. "Female circumcision and infibulation in Africa", Electronic Journal of Africana Bibliography, 4, 1999 (bibliography up to 1997).
- Balogun, Olukunmi O., et al. "Interventions for improving outcomes for pregnant women who have experienced genital cutting", Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2, 2013.
- Bryk, Felix. Circumcision in Man and Woman: Its History, Psychology, and Ethnology, The Minerva Group, Inc., 2001, first published 1934.
- CNN. Report on FGM in Egypt, February 2009.
- Sembène, Ousmane. Moolaadé, 2004, film about abandoning FGM.
- Ali, Ayaan Hirsi. Infidel: My Life, Simon & Schuster, 2007.
- Dirie, Waris. Desert Flower, Harper Perennial, 1999.
- Dirie, Waris. Desert Dawn, Little, Brown, 2003.
- Dirie, Waris. Desert Children, Virago, 2007.
- Kasinga, Fauziya, and Bashir, Layli Miller. Do They Hear You When You Cry, Delacorte Press, 1998.
- El Saadawi, Nawal. Woman at Point Zero, Zed Books, 1975.