Using HIV/AIDS Education as a Model for Female Genital Cutting Education: Respecting culture while educating communities

Moore, Farley

Female genital cutting (FGC), referred to by many global health organizations as female genital mutilation (FGM), has been practiced for centuries, mostly in Africa, Malaysia, and Indonesia.[1] FGC is a term that encompasses multiple acts, including removal of the clitoris, removal of the labia minora, narrowing of the vaginal opening, and pricking, piercing, or cauterization. Justifications for FGC include maintaining sexual propriety, safety for women and children, and solidifying cultural identity.[2] While the prevalence of FGC is still quite high, there have been human rights movements and ideological shifts away from the practice. Many countries have recently passed laws that prohibit FGC, even if it takes place in other jurisdictions. In 31 countries for which prevalence data is available, 30 years ago, one in two women between the ages of 15 and 19 had undergone some form of FGC; today that number is about one in three, or 34 percent.[3] However, a review of the current laws related to FGC show that legislating against FGC pushes it into secrecy. As FGC is so closely tied to cultural identity, education about FGC, and the context of cultural female oppression may be more useful than laws in limiting the practice of nonconsensual FGC.


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January 27, 2021