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Female circumcision among Egyptian women.

Womens Health. 1995 Winter;1(4):309-28.

Female circumcision among Egyptian women.

Ericksen KP.

Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis 95616, USA. kpericksen@ucdavis.edu

Although a remarkable degree of consensus has been reached among international agencies, policymakers, and women’s health advocates that the practice of female circumcision should be eliminated, such consensus is not necessarily shared by those who perform the operation or the families responsible for having girls excised. The surgical procedure is nested in a complex set of beliefs about identity, moral behavior, and the working of the female body. This article describes the dominant themes produced in 85 extensive interviews with mother and operators representing the broad spectrum of Egyptian society. The interviews detailed the operation itself, women’s emotional response to the operation, and the rationales put forth in support of the practice. Although institutional efforts to eliminate the practice will meet with resistance, significant demographic shifts already taking place are producing changes in family systems and the opportunity structure that coincide with the abandonment of excision in key sectors of the urban population.

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