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Created by God: How Somalis in Swedish Exile Reassess the Practice of Female Circumcision

Created by God: How Somalis in Swedish Exile Reassess the Practice of Female Circumcision

Johnsdotter, Sara

2002, Doctoral dissertation, Department of Social Anthropology, Lund University, Sweden

‘Created by God’ presents the views of Swedish Somalis on female circumcision and contrasts it to the Swedish public discourse on the issue. Despite the lack of documented illegal cases of female circumcision in Sweden, it is constantly claimed in the public discourse that female circumcision (female genital mutilation) is a practice upheld by the Somali exile group in Sweden. Based on an analysis of the internal debate on female circumcision among Swedish Somalis, it is argued that this is a practice negotiated and reassessed by Somalis in Sweden. While some traditional values are maintained, even when in conflict with mainstream mentality of the Swedish society, other values and attitudes are debated and abandoned. Among the Somalis in this study, reassessment of the religious imperative in relation to female circumcision has played a crucial role. The study highlights the importance of a processual theory of cultural practices, in contrast to the prevalent essentialist perspective. It is further argued that the prevalent discrepancy between the discourses – the discussion among Swedish Somalis and the public discussion in Sweden – is an obstacle in the process toward a complete abandonment of the practice of female circumcision in the Somali community in Sweden.

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Archives Blog Review

Female genital mutilation: cultural awareness and clinical considerations

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2007 Mar-Apr;52(2):158-63.

Female genital mutilation: cultural awareness and clinical considerations.

Braddy CMFiles JA.

Division of Community Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA.

ABSTRACT

Clinicians in the United States are increasingly encountering girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation. To foster a more trusting relationship with such patients, health care providers must have an accurate understanding of the cultural background surrounding this practice, a working knowledge of the different types of female genital mutilation procedures that may be encountered, and an awareness of both the acute and long-term complications. Some of these complications are potentially fatal, and the correct clinical diagnosis can be lifesaving

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Female circumcision

Saudi Med J. 2000 Oct;21(10):921-3.

Female circumcision.

Source

Department of Urology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, PO Box 3354, Riyadh 11211, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. jabudaia@hotmail.com

Abstract

It is uncertain when female circumcision was first practiced, but it certainly preceded the founding of both Christianity and Islam. A review of past and current historical, popular and professional literature was undertaken, and 4 types of female circumcision were identified. Typically female circumcision is performed by a local village practitioner, lay person or by untrained midwives. Female genital mutilation is not accepted by any religious or medical opinion, and is a violation of human rights against helpless individuals who are unable to provide informed consent and who must therefore be protected through education and legislation. Complications of female circumcision can present after many years. Any medical practitioner (either for adult or pediatric) can be confronted with this issue of female circumcision, even in countries where this custom is not present, thus mandating the understanding of this complex issue.

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Female circumcision in Somalia: some psychosocial aspects

Genus. 1985 Jan-Jun; 41(1-2):133-47

Female circumcision in Somalia: some psychosocial aspects

Gallo PG

ABSTRACT

This article on female circumcision begins with a brief review of literature, and goes on to discuss the results of an extensive field investigation on female circumcision conducted in Somalia, resulting in an analysis of the psychosocial aspects connected with the practice. The attitudes of women towards the practice, their opinions regarding the maintenance of the practice in the country, and their expectations as to their daughter’s circumcision were examined. The study population contained 2947 subjects, including 1410 married women, mostly mothers, 19.4% of which were illiterate, 20.3% with primary education. The average age was 25.8 years +or- 16.30. The results reveal: 1) The positive attitudes of the study population towards the custom. This approval shows no special relationship with ethnic group, rural or urban residence, or custom regarding mode of circumcision (infibulation, sunna, or clitoridectomia). It finds support in the ignorance of the negative aspects of the practice and the relative value granted to the positive ones. Most of the consequences become evident only several years after the operation; as a result the connection between cause and effects is not made by all of the women. 2) An average of 4 out of 5 women believe that circumcision should be continued and only 1 in 5 declared that it should be abandoned; whatever the age group ethnic group, or education group to which the women belong. 3) The interviewed subjects were generally in favor of the attenuated type of circumcision for their daughters. Few mothers (5%) in modern Somalia accept the idea of not submitting their daughters to traditional customs. In fact, many factors related to the whole family and social environment, not only the mother’s wishes, condition the decision regarding the girl’s circumcision.

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Female circumcision in Somalia: anthropological traits

Anthropol Anz. 1985 Dec; 43(4):311-26

Female circumcision in Somalia: anthropological traits

Grassivaro Gallo P, Abdisamed M.

ABSTRACT

In 1981, 2497 subjects (comprising women and girls) were interviewed in Somalia, mostly in Mogadish, about female circumcision. In this study there are presented the principle cultural trends which are connected with the custom and which have arisen from the research. Even today, the practice of female circumcision is universal in Somalia; the percentage of circumcised women was 99.3%. Infibulation is the commonest type of circumcision used (75.7%). The age of circumcision varies from birth to 15; the average being 7.5. The type of circumcision does not seem to be influenced by some environmental variables (e.g. birth place of parents or place of circumcision), it is primarily determined by the population of the individual region. Infibulation is accepted to the greatest extent by the pastoral populations of the middle/northern regions, principally in Ogaden and in the 4 Somalian regions on which it borders: Togdheer, Nugal, Muddug, Galgadud. In the southern regions (Upper, Middle, Lower Giuba) amongst rural populations or populations with a cattle/cultivation economy, there are also attenuated types of circumcision: sunna and clitoridectomia (20 to 30%). The evolution of the practice was studied by data of the subjects, of their mothers and of their daughters. From this analysis there was no indication toward non-circumcision. There is, however, a movement towards the attenuated forms of circumcision. The fundamental key to such an attenuated operation for a child seems to be the presence of the same attenuation in previous generations.

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