Archives Blog News

Reshaping the global health agenda: female genital cutting.

FREEMed Educ Online. 2016 Jan;21(1):31023. doi: 10.3402/meo.v21.31023.

Reshaping the global health agenda: female genital cutting.

Al-Saadi N, Khan H, Auckburally S, Al-Saadi A, Khan T.


Female genital cutting (FGC) is described by the World Health Organization as ‘all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. Its practice is common in at least 29 countries across Africa and the Middle East– currently affecting 125 million girls and women worldwide. Due to globalization, specifically increasing trends in migration, instances of FGC are increasingly common in the developed world. For example, 137,000 girls residing in the UK in 2011 were found to have undergone FGC. Despite this, the increasing trend of FGC in the developed world has not been uniformly met with suitable mechanisms to support these patients…

This article is available in this LINK

Archives Blog eBook

The circumcision of women: a strategy for eradication

London, England; Zed Books: 1987.

The circumcision of women: a strategy for eradication

Koso-Thomas 0


Female circumcision is a traditional practice in many parts of Africa that has significant medical consequences. The main arguments in its favor, including cleanliness, aesthetics, improved health and social benefits, are refuted in this monograph. This practice was studied in Sierra Leone, where it affects 90% of females, and is carried out by secret societies. Female initiates are usually in their early teens and must undergo training and participate in elaborate rituals. The health effects vary with the typ of circumcision and the conditions under which it is performed. Immediate consequences include pain, hemorrhage, urinary tract problems, and serious infections. Scar formation leads to late sequelae of dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, pelvic infections and abscesses, hematocolpos, infertility, difficulty urinating, urinary tract infections and anal incontinence and fissures. Female circumcision is also a cause of later reproductive difficulty due to obstructed labor, resulting in several obstetrical complications. Psychological effects differ among women who have undergone it voluntarily, and those who have been forced to undergo this ritual, with the latter suffering much more psychologically. A pilot study of 135 people in Sierra Leone found that a significant number favor female circumcision and believe that it is essential to their culture. This attitude is related to illiteracy. In a survey of 300 women in Sierra Leone, tradition was the most common reason given for circumcision (85%), followed by social identity and religion. Circumcision was related to Muslim religion and inversely related to educational level. Statistical breakdown by tribe, method, complications, age, and attitude regarding circumcision is provided. A detailed strategy for the eradication of female circumcision is outlined.

This book can be accessed in this LINK

Archives Blog Review

Genital mutilation of girls

Women’s Health (Lond Engl), 3(4): 475-485 , DOI 10.2217/17455057.3.4.475

Genital mutilation of girls

Almroth L, Elmusharaf S


Female genital mutilation is a traditional practice affecting girls when their genitals are cut for social, cultural or other non-medical reasons. It is estimated that 3 million girls undergo the procedure every year, mainly in areas in Africa and Asia where it is traditionally practised, but owing to migration patterns, girls living in other parts of the world are also at risk. This article describes the practice of female genital mutilation in a changing world and outlines some aspects in relation to female genital mutilation in girls and women that health staff, teachers, social workers and others should pay attention to. Knowledge regarding complications is important for healthcare, but when complications have been used as arguments against the practice this has had limited effect. Information regarding health risks has to be integrated into culturally sensitive approaches based on human rights and improving the situation for girls and women in order to reach a point where genital mutilation of girls will be generally abandoned.

This article can be accessed in this LINK

Archives Blog Original research

Female genital mutilation, cutting, or circumcision.

Obstet Gynecol Int. 2013;2013:240421. doi: 10.1155/2013/240421. Epub 2013 Nov 27.FREE

Female genital mutilation, cutting, or circumcision.

Sundby J(1), Essén B(2), Johansen RE(3).

Author information: (1)Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Norway. (2)Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Uppsala University, Sweden. (3)Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS), Norway.


Female genital mutilation (FGM), female genital cutting, or female circumcision of women, the theme addressed in this special issue has many terms. The short form acronym FGM is understood by most, and it does contain the notion that we are talking about a traditional practice that is harmful. The practice affects women in diaspora as well as African countries, and men are involved as decision makers and attitude changers. Cutting is a neutral term, and circumcision is a more traditional terminology. Each term carries a certain value. But the practice is the same regardless of name.

In order to understand the tradition, assist women who have undergone it, and promote action against it, it is important to have solid knowledge. This knowledge is partly medical and partly social. Thus, research based on a multitude of methods is warranted. This special issue is indeed a combination of social science and medical research on different aspects of the practice, that is also a genital health hazard for women….

This article can be downloaded in this LINK

Archives Blog News

Kallestein: The Cut

Midwifery Today, 2009, issue 90

The Cut

Kallestein LM


I was just about to witness a young girl have her genitals cut off at the hand of her mother. Intentionally. With a razor blade. The government official, who should have prevented it from happening, smiled his semi-toothless smile at me, from outside the boma (homestead).

The chief respected the traditional law of no men allowed inside the ring of mud huts during the ceremony. He had no respect for the crime against Kenyan law that was about to take place, or the gross violation of basic human rights—a violent act against a helpless child…

The razor blade reflected the rays of the rising sun.

All around were smiles and hushed laughter. Expectations. The main focus for most of the people standing in and around the boma was to get it over with, but not out of sympathy for 14-year-old Mary, who stood shivering as the sun made its way above the horizon. They simply couldn’t wait for it to be party time.

And my role in all of this? I was the guest of honor….

This article can be accessed in this LINK

Archives News

Female Genital Mutilation: Legal, Cultural and Medical Issues

Midwifery Today, 2006, 80

Female Genital Mutilation: Legal, Cultural and Medical Issues

Skaine R

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 80, Winter 2006, © 2006, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Cheryl K. Smith.] [2005, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 321 pages, paperback.]

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also sometimes known as female circumcision, comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons. (WHO, Genital Mutilation: Legal, Cultural and Medical Issues, a well-researched reference book, is important reading for individuals who are providing birth care to women from the countries in which FGM is practiced. As the world becomes more mobile and international, midwives and other birth professionals are more likely to see women who have had one of these procedures performed on them.

This book starts with discussion of the various types of FGM, rationales behind the practice and some of the psychosexual effects. It then goes on to provide information on prevalence, evolving law regarding the practice and how acceptance/rejection of FGM is changing. One of the most interesting chapters includes an interview with Maasai in Tanzania regarding FGM and highlights the strength of tradition in keeping this damaging practice alive. While painful to read in parts, the book provides a comprehensive look at a practice that has affected between 110 and 140 million women around the world.

This book review can be accessed in this LINK

Archives Blog Review

Attitudes towards female genital mutilation: an integrative review.

Int Nurs Rev. 2013 Nov 15. doi: 10.1111/inr.12070. [Epub ahead of print]

Attitudes towards female genital mutilation: an integrative review.

Reig Alcaraz M, Siles González J, Solano Ruiz C.

Department of Nursing, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain.


BACKGROUND: Immigration and globalization processes have contributed to the international dissemination of practices such as female genital mutilation. Between 100 and 400 million girls and women have been genitally mutilated, and every year 3 million girls are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to describe the attitudes towards the practice of female genital mutilation in relation to different health systems and the factors that favour its discontinuation.

METHODS: An integrative review was performed of publications from the period 2006 to 2013 included in the MedLine, PubMed, LILACS, SciELO, CINAHL and CUIDEN databases.

RESULTS: We selected 16 studies focusing on diverse contexts that assessed the attitudes of both men and women regarding the perpetuation of this practice. Ten corresponded to studies conducted in countries of residence. Several areas of investigation were explored (factors contributing to the continuation of female genital mutilation, factors contributing to its discontinuation, feelings about the health system).

LIMITATIONS: It is possible that the relevant studies may not have been included given the limitations of the literature review and the invisibility of the phenomenon studied.

CONCLUSIONS: This review demonstrates the strong social pressure to which women are subjected as regards the practice of female genital mutilation. However, many other factors can contribute to eroding beliefs and arguments in favour of this practice, such as the globalization, culture and social environment of countries in the West.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING AND HEALTH POLICY: Nurses occupy an essential position in detecting and combating these practices.

This article can be purchased online in this LINK 

Archives Blog News

Elongation of labia minora – Zambia webpage. Sunday, December 07, 2008LME

Elongation of labia minora – Zambia

By Manena (author of the blog where this post is hosted)


I was browsing the web today and just now found out that elongation of labia minora is classified as Genital Mutilation type IV (where have I been?). So of course after my initial shock of “oh my God! I am mutilated!!!” abated… I had a few minutes to think and I have come to a conclusion on the subject. The researchers have erred.

History and Commentary: Let me start by saying that the information contained herein will most likely upset/disconcert a lot of Zambians because we have trouble talking about our sexuality or sex in public places. Ritual/ traditional sexual matters are discussed in private among friends or at gender restricted traditional ceremonies. The reason I feel strongly to speak on this subject is that as Zambian, we sometimes have a tendency to accept western standards as the norm, shunning our own cultures without much investigation other than the fact that it seems primitive. We often forget that when anthropologists come in from other countries to “study” us, they are not highly familiar with the language for a start, and the local people are not comfortable explaining everything or have trouble translating things to English. The evidence is clear in ChisunguA girl’s initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambiaby Audrey Richards. Yes there are a lot of inconsistencies and traditional teaching that has been done the same way for ages that we have no idea why it’s done that way other than– it was passed on by our forefathers that way. You could say the same for many religious practices too. Unfortunately, unlike religion, our history is not written, but passes on through fables or partially true stories, through dance and song or a village elders romantic view of the past…

This post can be accessed in this LINK
Archives Blog News

ELONGATION: OKUKYALIRA ENSIKO, the Buganda way of enhancing sexual pleasure

Ekimeeza webpage. MAY 21, 2012 LME

ELONGATION: OKUKYALIRA ENSIKO, the Buganda way of enhancing sexual pleasure

(No author)


Humanity’s pursuit for merit is not restricted to the open. Even in utmost privacy, when the matter at hand is entirely the business of a secretive twosome, mankind has always sought to excel and impress.

To many men, performance must impress even if it means applying drugs as dangerous as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Many others have tried hazardous penis enlargement products. It is women, however, that have come up with the most creative and most awesome ways of enhancing their sexual performance.

In some cultures, glitters and jewels are applied down there to boost the area’s attractiveness. In parts of East and Central Africa women invented a sexual stimulus method that the people of Buganda came to know as Okukyalira ensiko.

This tradition of pulling and elongating the parts of the vagina variously known as labia minora, inner labia or inner lips enjoys pervasive reverence in central Uganda. In western Uganda, women of the Bahima clan used to make their labia minora long enough to cover the vaginal opening, raising barricades in the path of rapists. As members of the clan moved to towns and increasingly started wearing clothes following the 1986 change of government, the fear of rape went away with the modification of the vagina…

This article can be accessed in this LINK

Archives Blog Original research

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