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The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Health Care for Women International. 2003 24(2) 115-124

The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Bilkis Vissandjée, Mireille Kantiébo, Alissa Levine & Radegonde N’Dejuru

ABSTRACT

Our goal is to explore the practices of female genital excision and infibulation as they relate to gender identity and the acculturation process in Canada. We examined relevant research on these issues and share the results of a nationwide project conducted in 1997–1999 among 162 Canadian immigrants from regions in Africa where practices of excision and infibulation are still in effect. Our discussion of gender identity is inextricably linked to notions about the ways in which girls, women, and virginity are socially constructed. The complexity of the acculturation process along with the integration within a host society is highlighted and the conflicting identities available to women are brought to the fore.

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