What’s “normal”: female genital mutilation, psychology, and body image.

J Am Med Womens Assoc. 2004 Summer;59(3):168-70.

What’s “normal”: female genital mutilation, psychology, and body image.

Adams KE.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oregon Health and Sciences University, USA.


Despite international efforts to halt the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), the number of African girls and women undergoing the procedure is not declining as rapidly as international observers had hoped when the World Health Organization began focusing attention on the practice in the 1960s. This article focuses on the psychological effects of FGM through the example of a patient who had undergone the procedure in childhood and now felt that her closed appearance was “normal” and that to be opened would be “abnormal.” Western advocates must educate themselves about the various cultural forces that lead to FGM in order to help women who have undergone the procedure heal psychologically, thereby breaking the pattern of abuse from generation to generation.

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