Motives for the Practice – Social Pressures

There is a strong social pressure to conform to the tradition, to belong to the circle of those who have undergone it. Non-circumcised girls and their families are often marginalised to an extent that their quality of life is reduced. The girls have less chance of finding a husband and having children, and them and their families are excluded from society and denied positions within the community. 11

Some young girls may feel a need to belong, and may feel left out of this experience,
particularly if being bullied by their peers: 10

Terry Mitchell. (1993) Somali Children (creative commons license)

“Two sisters aged 10 and 12 years old, who were not circumcised as their mother did not want them to be…They felt different and stigmatised from the other girls in their school, as all the other girls were circumcised. They faced a lot of name calling at school. They decided they wanted to be circumcised and their grandmother supported their decision and took them to the circumcisor behind the back of the mother. The girls felt satisfied that they became similar to their colleagues” 10j


It is important to note that the influence of the women in the communities is not to be underestimated, and it is often the older women such as grandmothers who pressurise families to have their daughters circumcised. In some cases the grandmother was not only influential but made the decision herself, behind the parent’s back.