Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Key Influences on a Continued Controversial Practice

  • Emma Calhoun Ellis University of Georgia
Keywords: female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), women, status, marriageability


Throughout the world, women undergo female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), or procedures in which a woman’s external genitalia is either injured or removed for a non medically-related reason. This review explores the reasons why women who have undergone FGM/C would continue the procedure on their daughters through an examination of statistical data, journals, and books. The review offers an analysis of the nature through which FGM/C became so deeply embedded in society, highlighting the cultural and social norms that connect FGM/C with marriageability. In particular, the influence of the nature of a woman’s procedure, its effect on her psychological welfare and marital relations, and her level of education are examined. The limitations of using outside forces, such as legislation and non-governmental organizations, to enact cultural change is additionally explored through a comparison with the potential power of community leaders. The review concludes by proposing a preventative and a reactive response to mitigate the practice of FGM/C. The preventative approach focuses on changing male marriage preferences, while the reactive approach centers on providing women with alternative sources for economic stability beyond marriage.

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