History and Cultural Context

“Even though cultural practices may appear senseless or destructive from the standpoint of others, they have meaning and fulfil a function for those who practice them. However, culture is not static; it is in constant flux, adapting and reforming. People will change their behaviour when they understand the hazards and indignity of harmful practices and when they realize that it is possible to give up harmful practices without giving up meaningful aspects of their culture.” 1b

The WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA condemns FGM as a form of violence and discrimination against women 2, however for these women this is part of their identity and failure to undergo this procedure can lead to condemnation and ostracism within their own community 23. Therefore it is important to try and understand the motives for this widespread practice in order to break down the cross-cultural barriers which exist when caring for these women, and to work towards abolishment of FGM worldwide

There are several considered motives for the practice of FGM:
  1. Tradition
  2. Religion
  3. Sexuality
  4. Marriage
  5. Male Satisfaction
  6. Cleanliness
  7. Social pressures