Accepted paper:

Understanding turning points in the process of changing attitudes towards the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting among migrant women in Belgium.

Authors:

Afi Agboli-Schumann (UCL/ IRSS)
Fabienne Richard (GAMS Belgique)
Isabelle Aujoulat (Université Catholique de Louvain)

Paper short abstract:

This study explores the role of turning points in the process of changing attitudes towards Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and other related norms among migrant women with FGM in Belgium. These turning points help to understand the critical moments at which the change of attitude occurs.

Paper long abstract:

According to international public health discourses, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful practice and recognised as a form of gender-based violence of which women are not only victims but they are also perpetrators. However, some women's attitudes towards the practice and related social norms changed and my research shows that sometimes these changes begin in country of origin but are reinforced in Western host countries, such as Belgium, after the women migrate. This qualitative study explores the role of these tuning points in the process of changing attitudes towards a social norm. Fifteen women living in Belgium were met several times for individual interview. These women identified themselves as agents of change for not undertaking the practice on their daughters. The change in attitude regarding FGM/C occurred at particular turning points in women's lives. During the interviews these 'turning points' that gave them the courage to change were established together with the research participants. Significant life events are identified as transition points in changing conceptions of FGM/C among migrant women. The analysis drew on a life story approach and lifeline constructions through which common turning points relating to a change in attitude towards FGM/C were identified. One such example is the perception of pain during sexual intercourse, which was considered normal in the home country but was no longer perceived as normal in Belgium by most research participants.

panel P038
Understanding "FGM" and sexual violence in diaspora: women's journeys through re-creations of identity and discourses on trauma