What makes a woman? Understanding the reasons for and circumstances of female genital mutilation/cutting in Indonesia, Ethiopia and Kenya

Tasneem Kakal, Irwan Hidayana, Abeje Berhanu Kassegne, Tabither Gitau, Maryse Kok, Anke van der Kwaak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study presents the reasons for, and circumstances of, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Indonesia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Data were collected in 2016 and 2017 by means of a household survey conducted with young people (15–24 years) and through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and key informant interviews with youth and community stakeholders. The study findings confirm previously documented reasons for FGM/C, noting that these reasons are interconnected, and are rooted in gender norms. These reasons drive the alterations of bodies to produce a ‘cultured’ body in the form of the ‘pure body’ among Sundanese and Sasak peoples in Indonesia, the ‘tame’ body among the Amhara people in Ethiopia and the ‘adult body’ among the Maasai people in Kenya. While health workers and parents are important decision-makers in each setting, young Maasai women are, at times, able to exercise their agency to decide whether to undergo FGM/C, owing to their older age at circumcision. Changing legal and social contexts in each setting have brought about changes in the practice of FGM/C such as increased medicalisation of the procedure in Indonesia. The clear links between the different drivers of FGM/C in each setting demonstrate the need for context-specific strategies and interventions to create long-lasting change.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Ethiopia
  • Female genital cutting
  • female genital mutilation
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya

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