The social vagina: labia elongation and social capital among women in Rwanda.

Cult Health Sex. 2010 Oct;12(7):813-26.LME

The social vagina: labia elongation and social capital among women in Rwanda.

Larsen J

Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Sciences, London, UK.


Far from being an individual concern, vaginas are located within complex socio-cultural settings. The acceptability of policies that focus on health-promoting behavioural change is influenced by values regarding normative gender and sexual roles. In Rwanda, the elongation of the labia minorathrough manual manipulation is not an individual act but takes place in social groups and thus cannot be fully understood by focusing one’s attention solely on the individual-related behavioural components but, rather, on the social environment in which it exists. This paper aims to increase knowledge about labia elongation and assesses whether this vaginal practice produce social capital.

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