Female Genital Mutilation and its Psychosexual Impact in Women in the United Kingdom
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) refers to procedures that involve the partial or total removal of external female genitalia. FGM can also take the form of any injury to the organ of the female genitalia for no medical reasons. There are four types of FGM: pricking the clitoris or prepuce, removal of the vaginal opening, and narrowing of the vaginal opening. Up to date, all these forms of FGM have been reported in the UK. FFM is also known as female circumcision, and other communities have given local names such as “Sunna’. FGM is considered an infringement of the fundamental rights of human beings specifically to girls and women. Reports made by the World Health Organization show that over two million girls undergo FGM either voluntarily or involuntarily (Behrendt & Moritz, 2005). More than half of African countries and a dozen in Asia have communities that practice FGM. Further reports indicate that approximately 60 000 girls aged between 0 and 14 years have been of mother that have undergone FGM. UK communities that practice FGM include Somali, Sudanese, Kenyan, Egyptian, Eritrean, and Nigerian. Non-African communities that practice FGM include Yemeni, Kurdish, Indonesian, Afghani, and Pakistani.
For a long time, FGM has been intertwined with social dynamics thus making it hard for some communities to abandon the rite. Although the members of the communities know that FGM is destructive to girl’s and women’s life, they continue to practice in the name of protecting honor, maintaining family status, and bringing up the girl correctly. The United Nation has acknowledged that FGM brings shame, stigmatization, and health effects on girls and women, and labeled it a negative cultural practice that should be eliminated in Africa and African/ Asian communities in Europe. This proposal seeks to develop a research paper that examines the psychosexual effects of FGM on women in the United Kingdom. The specific research question of whether there are any psychosexual effects of FGM on men and women living in the UK.
Aim and Objectives
The primary objective of the research is to find out the percentage of women that have undergone FGM that suffers from psychosexual effects of FGM such as dysmenorrheal, lack of sexual desire, reduced frequency of sex, difficulty in achieving organism, being less pleased by sex, and vaginal dryness.
Background and Rationale for the study
According to the WHO (1997), FGM is any traditional practice that involves the cutting of female genitalia for cultural and non-medical purposes. Studies show that there are four different types of female genital mutilation: partial or total removal of the clitoris, excision of the labia manora, narrowing of the vaginal opening, and any other harmful procedures on the genital such as piercing, scraping, and pricking (WHO, 2008). About 28 countries in Africa practice FGM with Somalia having the highest prevalence of 98 % and other countries have an average prevalence rate of 8 % (Skaine, 2005). Refugees and immigrants from countries that practice FGM have spread the act to non –practicing countries with the United Kingdom being one of them. Other countries that now practice FGM courtesy of refugees and immigrants are Sweden, Denmark, France, and Norway.
FGM had a relation with the cultural, religious, and historical background of a certain community. However, from a human rights perception, it is a dangerous and unjustifiable act that violates human rights as it lead to pain, bodily harm and compromises integrity. Some other people argue that is it inhumane and a form of gender-based discrimination with harmful effects on femininity (Packer, 2005). It is an act, which results in social pressure put on individual since no benefits can be derived from it in the long-term other than a sense of belonging and identification with a certain community. The family is the basic unit for maintaining and upholding the tradition for the sake of status and respect (Packer, 2005).
Momoh (2009) believes the practice of FGM is related to certain cultural elements such as beliefs, social hierarchies, religion, behavioral norms, and political systems. It thrived through the assumption that it is a tradition as well as being perpetuated by poverty, illiteracy and status of women in the society. This is further supported by the fact that there exist penalties for non-practice, which is not only suffered by the girls or woman but the whole family. For instance, families that do not let their girls undergo FGM are stigmatized and denied some privileges such as entry into a leadership position. Additionally, the communities are blinded by vague assumption such as the one claiming that the clitoris is dangerous to newborns due to its obstructive tendencies. Besides, FGM is seen as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, which is inevitable and unavoidable to the communities. The passage from childhood to adulthood is a fundamental part of African and Asian communities living in their home countries and the Diaspora.
According to WHO (2007), FGM causes a numerous health problems in girls and women. There exists little literature on the social, psychological, and psychosexual impacts of FGM but assessment of experiences of women that have undergone the procedure proves otherwise. These women testify that they experience not only pain but also a host of psychological effects as a result of FGM. Others complain of psychosexual effects such as lack of sexual appetite and pain during sex. In addition to that, some other women have complained of urine retention, painful menstruation, injuries to adjacent organs, severe bleeding, and infection.
Methodology & Justification
The methodology part of this proposal illustrates the case study design, selection of participants, data collection, secondary data and ethical considerations.
Case Study Design
The research will focus on FGM clinics within England because most FGM victims seek medical attention within them. The Clinics under this study will include African Women’s Clinic-University College, London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Acton African Well. Woman Clinic: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital. African Well Woman Clinic Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, West London African Women’s Service -CHELSEA AND WESTMINSTER HOSPITAL NHS TRUST, Nottingham University Hospital-Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Northwick Park Hospital & Central Middlesex Hospital–African Well Women’s Clinic-North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, and Mile End Hospital –Barts Health NHS Trust.
Selection of Participants
The participants to be selected will come from the above hospitals and must have been involved in the fight against FGM. The first group of participants will be Hospitals’ staff involved in handling patients with FGM and related problems. The members of staff will be important source of information because of their relationship with FGM victims who are center of the research. The second group is Ant-FGM activists within the UK and has affiliations with the above-mentioned hospitals. The third group will be any willing FGM victim either visiting or have visited the above-mentioned hospitals seeking medical attention concerning FGM. 32 participants will be involved in the study.
Table 1.1 Summary of Participant to be contacted
|Group||Hospital Staff||Anti-FGM Activists||FGM Activists|
Data Collection Methods
The data collection methods to be used in the study are interviews and questionnaires. Interview guides will be developed to ensure that the interviewees do not fill burdened by the questions. The interview will take a semi-structured format to ensure flexibility and that relevant information is gathered within the shortest time possible. Individual interview will be contacted to the members of staff and the FGM activists because of the perception that they have nothing to hide since they believe that the research paper will help in the fight against FGM. Of course, the Key participants of the research are the FGM victims and some methods will be used to ensure that they co-operate. One such method is the use of questionnaires since most of the FGM victims may not be ready to be interviewed on a one on one basis. The researcher will also ask the hospitals to provide phone numbers for some victims just in case some will be willing to take telephone interviews since it is much safer as it protects the victims.
Primary sources of data such as interviews may not be sufficient to gather enough data and information required for the research. There is a possibility that the researcher will not find their communities from talking about their experiences with strangers prohibit enough FGM victims since most of them. Additionally, most FGM clinics may complicate the procedure of acquiring information from them in a bid to protect the FGM victims. As a result, secondary data will be gathered from journals, books, and reports given by health organization such WHO, NHS, and CDC. Additionally, FGM is a contemporary issue, and some information can be gathered from new paper articles since a week never passes without finding such article in the local dailies.
Ethical and Bias issues
Ethical consideration is important because they show respect to the people being researched. Before beginning the research, permission will be sought from NGOs dealing with FGM as well the local Health Offices within which the hospitals will be situated. The identity of the participants, especially FGM victims will be kept confidential, as the questionnaires to be sued will only give a participant a number and designation (staff, activists, or FGM victim. In addition to that, the researcher will desist from asking questions that seem to hurt the conscience of the participant. Therefore, the participants have the freedom to walk out from the interview or desist from answering such questions (Bosch, 2001)
Research Time Table
|Research phase||Specific actions||Period|
|Preparation stage||Mobilization and set-up of tools and instruments (laptop, the internet, etc.); search for 25 credible sources using outlined criteria; initial scrutiny of all articles to ensure relevance of content to the research||1.5 months (May 1 – June 15, 2016)|
|Data collection and recording||Deeper analysis of each article, its context, objectives, biases, ethical considerations, and relevant content; recording of all relevant details in an orderly manner in rough draft||3 months (July 1 – September 30, 2016)|
|Data analysis, representation||Preparation of fine draft of pertinent observations from the articles; establishment and analysis of patterns, themes from the articles, recording of personal interpretations, discussion of findings||2 months (October 15 – December 15, 2016)|
|Finalization of research||Preparation of final conclusions, findings, based on identified themes and patterns in articles; outlining personal thoughts, weaknesses of research, and areas for future research||1 month (January 1 – January 31, 2017)|
|Assessment and evaluations||Evaluating the success of the research and identifying areas to improve on in future studies||2 weeks (February 15 – February 28, 2017)|
The research topic requires the use of secondary sources as compared to primary sources due to the difficulties thaw will be experienced while seeking participants. Girls and women that have undergone FGM may not be willing to be interviewed to stigma and cultural issue. Additionally, next time, more secondary source will be needed thus requiring permission to enter online journal data bases such as pro quest. Nevertheless, the whole process of writing the proposal was interesting since there are enough sources, online and print, for gathering information about FGM.
Behrendt, A. and Moritz, S., 2005. Posttraumatic stress disorder and memory problems after
female genital mutilation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(5), pp.1000-1002.
Bosch, X., 2001. Female genital mutilation in developed countries. The Lancet, 358(9288),
El-Defrawi, M.H., Lotfy, G., Dandash, K.F., Refaat, A.H. and Eyada, M., 2001. Female genital
mutilation and its psychosexual impact. Journal of Sex &Marital Therapy, 27(5), pp.465-473.
Momoh, C., 2009. Female genital mutilation. Radcliffe publishing.
Packer, C.A., 2002. Using Human Rights to Change Tradition: traditional practices harmful to
women’s reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa (Vol. 13). Intersentia nv.
Skaine, R., 2005. Female genital mutilation: legal, cultural, and medical issues.
World Health Organization, 2000. Female genital mutilation: a handbook for frontline workers.