Tag Archives: Africa

Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa

FREETransl Androl Urol. 2017 Apr;6(2):138-148. doi: 10.21037/tau.2016.12.01.

Female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa

Odukogbe AA, Afolabi BB, Bello OO, Adeyanju AS


Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a traditional practice in which the external female genitalia is partially or totally incised or excised for a non-therapeutic reason, usually without the consent of the individual. FGM/C is common in Africa with varying prevalence in different countries, though the incidence is reducing because it is considered a human rights issue with tremendous advocacy for its elimination by mainly nongovernmental organizations. It is mainly underreported in many countries in Africa especially where it has been declared illegal. FGM/C is often performed by a nonmedical practitioner with the aim of fulfilling religious or cultural rites and sometimes for economic benefits with the resultant acute, intermediate and late complications. It is sometimes performed by medical practitioners when it is speciously believed that its medicalization reduces the complications associated with the practice. The sensitivity of FGM/C is amplified when compared to male circumcision and voluntary alterations of the female external genitalia like piercing and tattooing as similar practices. The magnitude of the physical and psychosocial consequences of FGM/C outweighs the presumed benefits of the procedures highlighting the need for improvement of the multiple preventive measures by all the stakeholders and in all the sectors.

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The relationship between female genital mutilation and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.

Afr J Reprod Health. 2013 Dec;17(4 Spec No):156-60.FREE

The relationship between female genital mutilation and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.

Olaniran AA.


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an age-old practice that has since been linked with many health problems. This review aims to highlight some of the controversies trailing the relationship between FGM and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. A literature search was conducted on the subject matter. This was done using articles published in English while limiting the geographical coverage to sub-Saharan Africa. Three themes were noted. These themes include: Direct causal link between FGM and HIV transmission; indirect causal link between FGM and HIV transmission and a negative or no association between FGM and HIV transmission. While many of the arguments are within scientific reasoning, the researches supporting the views seem to lack the necessary objectivity. This study underscored the need for a more objective lens in viewing and conducting research on the relationship between FGM and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.

This article can be accessed in this LINK.

Ending female genital mutilation in the UK

Lancet. 2013 Nov 16;382(9905):1610. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62353-3.

Ending female genital mutilation in the UK.

[No authors listed]


“Four women held me down. I felt every single cut. I was screaming so much I just blacked out.” So wrote Leyla Hussein in The Guardian last week about her experience of female genital mutilation (FGM).

About 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM, which includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, cysts, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth. It has no health benefits for girls or women, and is a severe violation of their rights…

This article can be accessed in this LINK

The female circumcision, anthropology and liberalism

Rev. colomb. antropol. vol.46 no.2 Bogotá July/Dec. 2010FREE

The female circumcision, anthropology and liberalism (Article in Spanish)

Londoño Sulkin, CD


A new comer to the anthropology of African peoples and to the study of female genital cutting, the author reacts to the speeches and writings of American and Sierra Leonean scholar Fuambai Ahmadu on these matters. Inspired by her work, the author argues that many of the perceptions and much of the rhetoric of anti FGM (anti Female Genital Mutilation) movements are parochial, imperialistic, and illiberal, and suggests that anthropologists and others take counsel from anthropology’s age-old methodological prescription to attend carefully and over an extended period of time to the discourses and other practices of the people we study and to be reflexively critical about our own premises and beliefs, prior to adopting any purportedly liberal cause that seeks to eradicate any alien social practice.

This article can be accessed in this LINK

Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting in 27 African countries and Yemen.

Stud Fam Plann. 2013 Jun;44(2):189-204. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2013.00352.x.

Estimates of female genital mutilation/cutting in 27 African countries and Yemen.

Yoder PS, Wang S, Johansen E.

ICF Macro, 11785 Beltsville Drive, Suite 300, Calverton, MD 20705, USA. Stan.Yoder@icfi.com


The practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) has been documented in many countries in Africa and in several countries in Asia and the Middle East, yet producing reliable data concerning its prevalence and the numbers of girls and women affected has proved a major challenge. This study provides estimates of the total number of women aged 15 years and older who have undergone FGM/C in 27 African countries and Yemen. Drawing on national population-based survey data regarding FGM/C prevalence and census data regarding the number of women in each country, we find that almost 87 million girls and women aged 15 and older have been cut in these 28 countries. Producing reliable figures for the number of women affected by FGM/C in these countries allows researchers and program directors to better comprehend the impact of the practice and to mobilize resources for advocacy against it.

This article can be accessed in this LINK

Fewer younger women are undergoing female genital mutilation, study finds.

BMJ. 2013 Jul 25;347:f4754. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f4754. FREE

Fewer younger women are undergoing female genital mutilation, study finds.

Gulland A.


The practice of female genital mutilation is becoming less widespread in countries with low prevalence of the practice, prompting the children’s charity Unicef to say there are strong signs it will become a “vestige of the past.”

A statistical report on the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most prevalent shows that in some countries the practice is declining rapidly.1 Researchers used 70 household surveys conducted over a 20 year period, as well as carrying out new surveys, to look at the changing landscape surrounding female genital mutilation.

Researchers asked women and girls aged 15 to 19 years whether they had undergone the procedure, which in most cases takes place before the age of 10. They asked the same question …

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[Some disturbing truths on female sexual mutilation]

Rev Med Suisse. 2007 Nov 14;3(133):2627. FREE

[Some disturbing truths on female sexual mutilation]. [Article in French]

Nau JY.


Au hit-parade des pathologies, elles ne font guère recette. Il est vrai qu’il s’agit de pathologies bien particulières qui, en théorie du moins, pourraient être aisément prévenues. «Dans le monde, 100 à 140 millions de filles et de femmes ont subi une mutilation sexuelle. Ces mutilations entraînent de nombreux problèmes de santé, variables selon le type et la gravité de la lésion. Le phénomène est présent essentiellement en Afrique subsaharienne et dans quelques régions du Proche-Orient et de l’Asie du Sud-Est, notamment au Yémen, en Indonésie et en Malaisie, nous expliquent deux démographes dans le dernier numéro de la revue de l’Institut national français d’études démographiques.1 Près de 5% des victimes vivent dans des pays du Nord, soit plus de 6,5 millions de filles et de femmes. Elles résident principalement dans les pays européens d’immigration africaine ainsi qu’en Amérique du Nord.»
Sur le continent africain, on recense officiellement 28 pays où les mutilations sexuelles féminines sont pratiquées. D’un pays à l’autre, la proportion de femmes excisées varie considérablement allant de 1,4% au Cameroun à 96% en Guinée, du moins au début des années 2000. Ces mutilations ont généralement lieu sur les jeunes filles avant l’âge de 15 ans. Les plus fréquemment pratiquées sont, selon la classification de l’OMS, de types I et II, les mutilations de type III étant plus rares et très localisées. «La pratique des mutilations sexuelles féminines est souvent présentée comme la conséquence d’injonctions religieuses, notamment de l’islam, expliquent les chercheuses. Pourtant, l’excision était pratiquée en Afrique bien avant l’arrivée des religions monothéistes et aucun texte religieux ne permet de la justifier. Il n’y a pas de relation entre la diffusion de l’islam dans un pays et la proportion de femmes qui y sont excisées.»

This article can be accessed in this LINK.

Ethical concerns in female genital cutting.

Afr J Reprod Health. 2008 Apr;12(1):7-16.FREE

Ethical concerns in female genital cutting. [Article in English, French]

Cook RJ.


Un souci éthique initial consiste à savoir comment appeler au juste ce que l’organisation mondiale  de la santé (OMS) a décrit comme:

Toutes les procédures qui impliquent l’enlèvement partiel ou complet des organes génitaux externes de la femme et/ou la blessure infligée aux organes génitaux pour des raisons culturelles ou d’autres raisons  non-therapeutiques.

Un nom qu’on emploie communément y compris par l’OMS elle-même, est la « mutilation génitale féminine », mais cette description peut être éthiquement inappropriée. De manière descriptive, le mot « mutilation » peut être exagéré, parce qu’il n’arrive pas à faire la distinction entre les quatre types d’incision génitale reconnue par l’OMS. Comme évaluation, le nom n’est pas une description neutre, mais un jugement grossement sévère, puisqu’il condamne ceux qui recherchent, autorisent et réalisent telle incision comme des mutilateurs des êtres humains.  Culturellement, le nom manque de respect, parce qu’il ne respecte pas la motivation avec laquelle ceux qui demandent la procédure pour leurs filles agissent.  Sur le plan personnel, encore une fois, le nom manque de respect, parce qu’il dit aux femmes qui ont subi les procédures qu’elles ont été mutilées par leurs parents ou par des membres de leurs familles.  Au sein des communautés dans lesquelles la pratique prédomine, elle est décrite par le mot qui signifie la purification. Dan certaines communautés, la purité est une condition pour le mariage d’une jeune fille, qui s’avère essentielle pour l’avenir des filles là où les femmes célibataires n’ont pas d’opportunités.  Une étude menée par l’OMS qui porte des critiques sur la procédure a conclu que…

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Public health, cultural norms and the criminal law: an inconvenient union? A case study of female genital cutting.

Med Law. 2012 Sep;31(3):451-72.

Public health, cultural norms and the criminal law: an inconvenient union? A case study of female genital cutting.

Iyioha I.

Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, London ON, Canada. Ireh.patricia@gmail.com


Social and cultural stereotypes held about women and their health needs constitute a significant barrier to the enforcement of laws protecting women’s health. While the promulgation of remedial legislation to address the problem is a positive step towards protecting women’s health, these laws are promulgated in a cultural milieu that remains unwelcoming to women’s rights. The clash between long-held cultural perceptions and health laws, such as those affecting women’s reproductive health, engenders more problems for women’s health because the laws sometimes fail to produce the desired behavioural changes. This paper attempts to debunk the uncritical assumption that legislative reforms without more are positive instruments of change in protecting women’s health. In outlining this thesis, the paper examines the legal prohibition of Female Genital Cutting (‘FGC’) as a case study. To determine whether FGC prohibition laws are likely to be effective in achieving the public health agenda of protecting women’s health, the paper analyzes FGC laws against the normative and instrumental theories of legal compliance, as well as against the socio-cultural worldviews underlying the practice. It concludes that legislative efforts to protect women’s health may remain ineffective without structured efforts between health systems, governments or legal institutions and the cultural society.

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Female genital cutting and other intra-vaginal practices: implications for TwoDay Method use.

J Biosoc Sci. 2012 Sep;44(5):631-5.

Female genital cutting and other intra-vaginal practices: implications for TwoDay Method use.

Aksel S, Sinai I, Yee KA.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.


This report examines the implications of female genital cutting and other intra-vaginal practices for offering the TwoDay Method® of family planning.This fertility awareness-based method relies on the identification of cervicovaginal secretions to identify the fertile window. Female genital cutting and traditional vaginal practices, such as the use of desiccants, may affect the presence or absence of secretions and therefore the woman’s perception of her fertility. These issues and their implications for service delivery of the method are discussed.

There is no link to view this article online.