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Psycholinguistic approaches to ritual labia minora elongation among the Baganda women of Uganda

Bodily Integrity and the Politics of Circumcision. 2006, pp 57-64LME

Psycholinguistic approaches to ritual labia minora elongation among the Baganda women of Uganda 

Villa E., Grassivaro Gallo P

ABSTRACT

Ritual elongation of the labia minora is a particular expansive modification of the external genitalia exercised for cultural motives (FGM type 4 – WHO 1996). The practice is common among the Baganda women of Uganda, where a variety of terms describe the rite.

Psycholinguistic analysis was conducted both in present day Africa, where elongation of the labia minora results from ritual manipulation, and through the bibliographical accounts of western authors (anthropologists and doctors) from the 1950s/60s.

A semantic polarization results in the linguistic expressions. In Africa, the positive connotation of terms used to describe the rite indicates its substantial valorisation. The vocabulary used by western authors, however, includes reference to aspects of rural Europe suggestive of poverty and ignorance (“apron”), or symbolic ridicule of the manipulated feature, equating it to the ear of a Coker Spaniel (Spaniel ear nymphae).

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