[The voice of women subjected to female genital mutilation in the Region of Murcia (Spain).] [Article in Spanish]

Gac Sanit. 2014 Mar 24. pii: S0213-9111(14)00047-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gaceta.2014.02.006. [Epub ahead of print]

[The voice of women subjected to female genital mutilation in the Region of Murcia (Spain).] [Article in Spanish]

Ballesteros Meseguer C, Almansa Martínez P, Pastor Bravo MD, Jiménez Ruiz I.


OBJECTIVE: To explore the perceptions of a group of women who underwent female genital mutilation on the impact of this practice on their sexual and reproductive health.

METHODS: We performed a phenomenological qualitative study in a sample of 9 sub-Saharan Africa women, whose mean age was 30 years old and who had lived in Spain for 1 to 14 years. These women underwent genital mutilation in their countries of origin. Data was collected using a socio-demographic survey and an in-depth, structured personal interview. Subsequently, we performed a thematic discourse analysis.

RESULTS: The discourses were grouped into four categories related to participants’ perceptions of female genital mutilation. These categories were intimate relationships, pregnancy, childbirth, and social impact.

CONCLUSIONS: The practice of female genital mutilation is maintained due to social and family pressure, transmitted from generation to generation and silenced by women themselves. This practice affects their sexual and reproductive health, as demonstrated by anorgasmia and dyspareunia. The women were satisfied with the healthcare received during pregnancy and childbirth. Nevertheless, most of them were not satisfied with family planning.

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Archives Blog Review

Changing gendered norms about women and girls at the level of household and community: a review of the evidence.

Glob Public Health. 2008;3 Suppl 1:42-57. doi: 10.1080/17441690801892307.

Changing gendered norms about women and girls at the level of household and community: a review of the evidence.

Keleher H, Franklin L.

Department of Health Science, Monash University, Peninsula Campus, Australia.


Gendered norms are embedded in social structures, operating to restrict the rights, opportunities, and capabilities, of women and girls, causing significant burdens, discrimination, subordination, and exploitation. This review, developed for the Women and Gender Equity Knowledge Network of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, sought to identify the best available research evidence about programmatic interventions, at the level of household and community, that have been effective for changing gender norms to increase the status of women. The focus was on developing countries. A wide range of single and multiple databases were searched, utilizing database specific keywords such as: women and girls; men and boys; household and community; intervention; and gender norms. Key themes were identified: education of women and girls; economic empowerment of women; violence against women, including female genital mutilation/cutting; and men and boys. Types of interventions, levels of action, populations of interest, and key outcomes from evaluations are identified. Evaluations are limited, with little evidence or measurement of changes in gender equity and women’s empowerment. A key finding is, that targeting women and girls is a sound investment, but outcomes are dependent on integrated approaches and the protective umbrella of policy and legislative actions.

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Archives Blog Original research

Virginity testing: managing sexuality in a maturing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Med Anthropol Q. 2001 Dec;15(4):533-52.

Virginity testing: managing sexuality in a maturing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Leclerc-Madlala S.

Department of Anthropology, University of Natal.


KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa is currently the site of the world’s fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, where it is estimated that between 30 and 40 percent of the adult population is seropositive for HIV. With support from local politicians and members of various government ministries, several self-styled guardians of tradition have emerged to form organizations that advocate and conduct regular virginity testing of girls. Reference to the current HIV/AIDS epidemic is central to calls for greater support of this practice. Drawing on original research among Zulu-speaking people in the periurban communities of Durban, this article examines the sociocultural construction of HIV/AIDS and locates the growing popularity of virginity testing within a gendered meaning-making process consistent with commonly held beliefs that the epidemic is the result of women being sexually “out of control.” With the social impact of AIDS starting to take its toll in the forms of increasing AIDS-related deaths and a growing population of orphans, I argue that virginity testing is an attempt to manage the epidemic by exerting greater control over women and their sexuality. In addition, virginity testing of girls helps to draw attention away from the role of men in the maturing epidemic, consideration of which has been conspicuously absent in the popular discourse on AIDS at all levels of South African society.

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Archives Blog Original research

The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Health Care for Women International. 2003 24(2) 115-124

The cultural context of gender, identity: female genital, excision and infibulation

Bilkis Vissandjée, Mireille Kantiébo, Alissa Levine & Radegonde N’Dejuru


Our goal is to explore the practices of female genital excision and infibulation as they relate to gender identity and the acculturation process in Canada. We examined relevant research on these issues and share the results of a nationwide project conducted in 1997–1999 among 162 Canadian immigrants from regions in Africa where practices of excision and infibulation are still in effect. Our discussion of gender identity is inextricably linked to notions about the ways in which girls, women, and virginity are socially constructed. The complexity of the acculturation process along with the integration within a host society is highlighted and the conflicting identities available to women are brought to the fore.

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Archives Blog Original research

Female circumcision among Egyptian women.

Womens Health. 1995 Winter;1(4):309-28.

Female circumcision among Egyptian women.

Ericksen KP.

Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis 95616, USA.

Although a remarkable degree of consensus has been reached among international agencies, policymakers, and women’s health advocates that the practice of female circumcision should be eliminated, such consensus is not necessarily shared by those who perform the operation or the families responsible for having girls excised. The surgical procedure is nested in a complex set of beliefs about identity, moral behavior, and the working of the female body. This article describes the dominant themes produced in 85 extensive interviews with mother and operators representing the broad spectrum of Egyptian society. The interviews detailed the operation itself, women’s emotional response to the operation, and the rationales put forth in support of the practice. Although institutional efforts to eliminate the practice will meet with resistance, significant demographic shifts already taking place are producing changes in family systems and the opportunity structure that coincide with the abandonment of excision in key sectors of the urban population.

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