Tag Archives: Ethnology

Introduction of culturally sensitive HIV prevention in the context of female initiation rites: an applied anthropological approach in Mozambique

LMEJ Afr AIDS Res. 2009;8(4):491-502.

Introduction of culturally sensitive HIV prevention in the context of female initiation rites: an applied anthropological approach in Mozambique

Kotanyi S, Krings-Ney B


In Mozambique, initiation rites represent the most appropriate socio-cultural context for dealing with sexuality for a large part of the population. As the group most vulnerable to HIV exposure, HIV-prevention counselling could be ideally introduced to young women during initiation rites. This article demonstrates how interventions can take advantage of the positive aspects of this tradition. We discuss local notions of social ‘contamination’ versus biological ‘contamination,’ and we present a culturally sensitive communication strategy to bridge the divergent paradigms around AIDS-similar symptoms. Because of the emotional importance of the initiation rites, the suggested approach goes far beyond cognitive knowledge. After training, the godmothers in initiation rites became highly motivated to teach novice girls about HIV prevention and they trained other elderly women as well. Thus, the initiation rites turned into a process of empowerment for women in their own communities. A central agenda of the female initiation rites in Mozambique is to inculcate respect towards ancestors, elders, authorities and others; however, this respectful attitude between genders and between generations is disappearing due to factors like warfare and the cash economy. HIV-prevention counselling may be successfully introduced into initiation rites because of the unconscious, emotional impact of the process on the initiates’ behaviour. Other studies have shown that cognitive knowledge is not enough to lead to behavioural changes. Without changing the traditional initiation rites for females, which in Mozambique includes no genital cutting, a complementary approach introduces HIV-prevention counselling during ritual counselling moments, thereby motivating godmothers and novice girls and young women to be more aware and take precautions to prevent HIV infection.

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

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

[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.