Female circumcision in Somalia: some psychosocial aspects

Genus. 1985 Jan-Jun; 41(1-2):133-47

Female circumcision in Somalia: some psychosocial aspects

Gallo PG


This article on female circumcision begins with a brief review of literature, and goes on to discuss the results of an extensive field investigation on female circumcision conducted in Somalia, resulting in an analysis of the psychosocial aspects connected with the practice. The attitudes of women towards the practice, their opinions regarding the maintenance of the practice in the country, and their expectations as to their daughter’s circumcision were examined. The study population contained 2947 subjects, including 1410 married women, mostly mothers, 19.4% of which were illiterate, 20.3% with primary education. The average age was 25.8 years +or- 16.30. The results reveal: 1) The positive attitudes of the study population towards the custom. This approval shows no special relationship with ethnic group, rural or urban residence, or custom regarding mode of circumcision (infibulation, sunna, or clitoridectomia). It finds support in the ignorance of the negative aspects of the practice and the relative value granted to the positive ones. Most of the consequences become evident only several years after the operation; as a result the connection between cause and effects is not made by all of the women. 2) An average of 4 out of 5 women believe that circumcision should be continued and only 1 in 5 declared that it should be abandoned; whatever the age group ethnic group, or education group to which the women belong. 3) The interviewed subjects were generally in favor of the attenuated type of circumcision for their daughters. Few mothers (5%) in modern Somalia accept the idea of not submitting their daughters to traditional customs. In fact, many factors related to the whole family and social environment, not only the mother’s wishes, condition the decision regarding the girl’s circumcision.

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