Commenced in January 2007
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“FGM is with us Everyday“ Women and Girls Speak out about Female Genital Mutilation in the UK

Authors: Susana Oguntoye, Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Joanne Hemmings, Kate Norman, Eiman Hussein


There is inadequate information on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK, and there are often myths and perceptions within communities that influence the effectiveness of prevention programmes. This means it is difficult to address the trends and changes in the practice in the UK. To this end, FORWARD undertook novel and innovative research using the Participatory Ethnographic and Evaluative Research (PEER) method to explore the views of women from Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia that live in London and Bristol (two UK cities). Women-s views, taken from PEER interviews, reflected reasons for continued practice of FGM: marriageability, the harnessing and control of female sexuality, and upholding traditions from their countries of origin. It was also clear that the main supporters of the practice were believed to be older women within families and communities. Women described the impact FGM was having on their lives as isolating. And although it was clearly considered a private and personal matter, they developed a real sense of connection with their peers within the research process. The women were overwhelmingly positive about combating the practice, although they believed it would probably take a while before it ends completely. They also made concrete recommendations on how to improve support services for women affected by FGM: Training for professionals (particularly in healthcare), increased engagement with, and outreach to, communities, culturally appropriate materials and information made available and accessible to communities, and more consequent implementation of legislation. Finally, the women asked for more empathy and understanding, particularly from health professionals. Rather than presenting FGM as a completely alien and inconceivable practice, it may help for those looking into these women-s lives and working with them to understand the social and economic context in which the practice takes place.

Keywords: Female genital mutilation, participatory research, FemaleCircumcision/Cutting, PEER method

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