The Disabling Impact of Female Genital Mutilation: An Auto-Ethnographic Study of One Woman's Experience of FGM
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Drawing upon the author’s personal experience of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), this MRP examines the powerlessness and lack of agency of females who are subjected to this disabling practice. This research project explains the many negative health, emotional and psychological consequences of FGM and describes the difficult task of erasing the deep scars caused by the practice. A major aspect of this MRP is an attempt to draw linkages between the personal impacts of FGM and the social, cultural and religious factors contributing to the perpetuation of the practice in some countries. There is a particular focus on African countries and especially Nigeria. The primary aim of this research project is to demonstrate the need for critical discourses around the disabling impacts of FGM and to promote the implementation of progressive laws and policies that respect the rights of girls and women to control their own bodies. Entrenched patriarchal traditions and religious beliefs uphold FGM, and this MRP discusses the stigmatization, marginalization and barriers imposed on women who refuse to submit to bodily mutilation as a rite of passage to womanhood. The study’s auto-ethnographic research methodology facilitates exploration of the disabling consequences of FGM in areas such as intimacy, marriage, parenting and family life. In order to provide historical context, this auto-ethnographic methodology is supplemented by analysis of the social and historical origins of FGM. Recognizing the intersecting factors that support FGM, the study pays particular attention to the ways in which religion, race and gender combine to marginalize and silence many women in their religious communities. Overall, this research project seeks to explain the historical origins of the practice of FGM, its ongoing disabling impacts on girls and women in some societies, and the need for transformed gender norms that empower the voices and support the self-determination rights of girls and women in deeply patriarchal countries such as Nigerian.