Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 2: Socio-economic Analysis

Any serious look at the realities of female genital mutilation in modern Britain cannot be complete without an attempt at sociological analysis in parallel with empirical description and policy discussion.

FGM is a social and economic force as well as a fundamental issue around human rights and the imperative on us all to keep the most vulnerable and smallest members of our society safe.

It is important to consider how sociological and economic analysis can contribute to understandings of what FGM means in a modern, historically fully established Western society such as, but not exclusively, the nations of Europe, North America and Australia.

Sociology throws light on how FGM sits in the social order, and what its impacts for that order might be, overall and directly for those who experience it (whether at first hand or in other ways). Economics helps in considering the implications of FGM for the economies of communities and societies in which it is found.

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 3: Perceptions and Beliefs Over Time

One of the most puzzling questions around genital mutilation is how it arose, such a long time ago and spontaneously, in totally unconnected parts of the world. To date, just as there is no commonality in how genital mutilation is practised, there is also no universal answer. Nonetheless, one of the most interesting responses to the puzzle has been, as medical historian David Gollaher suggests, to examine the meanings assigned to it, to ask what people believe they are doing when they perform genital ‘cutting’.

There is a widespread – but erroneous – belief that female genital mutilation is required by adherents to Islam (Muslims). The general perception of a direct connection between female genital mutilation and Islam arises largely because it is most often found in Muslim countries such as those of the sub-Sahara region. The reality, however, is that FGM is practised by various denominations and sects of Islam, just as it has been adopted by some denominations and sects within Christianity and Judaism in that part of the world. But in every case FGM was in place before the various religious groups adopted it.

In fact, female genital mutilation actually precedes all the major world faiths and is also found in communities with animist or pantheistic beliefs. Despite claims to the contrary, FGM is fundamental to no global religion, even though at various times and in various places various faiths have adopted the practice.    

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