Accepted paper:

Experiencing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in terms of violence - does only migration change the perception?


Elena Jirovsky (Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I challenge the notion that changes in experiencing FGM/C especially or only occur due to migration to countries of the Global North. Findings from Burkina Faso illustrate how women (and men) experience FGM/C in terms of violence, and what implications this locally has.

Paper long abstract:

Do women interpret or come to recognize their experiences regarding FGM/C in terms of violence or abuse only when they are migrating? I argue that such changes in self-perception and identity already have implications in socialities where FGM/C is traditionally practiced. Ethnographic findings from Burkina Faso serve as basis for reflection on this question. In the urban context of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, the main rationale for FGM/C was the control of female sexuality. A negative language about FGM/C, the "mutilation," and "torture," has become a part of local peoples' self-perception: cut women regard themselves as sexually mutilated, incomplete, and dysfunctional. Men and uncut women or men presume that cut women are not able to enjoy intercourse, and are unhealthy. The circumcised body is no longer the normal body, and no longer the appropriate body. Both opponents and proponents of the practice want to protect females from pain and suffering. Opponents ostracize those who are "pitiless" and continue inflicting the pain of FGM/C on others. Those actions are considered shameful. The discourse of the anti-FGM/C campaign in Burkina Faso is reflected in those stories of suffering and mutilation. In this form, terms of violence and abuse have an expression in the local context. These findings offer an impression of views on FGM/C relating to violence and abuse in countries of origin; they are of use as basis of comparison when it comes to interpreting findings on women who have migrated to Europe.

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