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 4: Men, Women and Power

In the twentieth century female genital mutilation was a matter rarely discussed in polite Western society. Its immutable centrality in various traditional communities, even nations, was barely acknowledged in the more modern ‘developed’ world, where the very large majority of people had no idea that FGM is a fact of life for others, even sometimes a few others amongst their own compatriots.

The onset of the twenty-first century, however, has seen things change. FGM has started to be recognised as an issue in most cities in the Western world. People in Britain, mainland Europe, North America and, for instance, Australia have begun to ask how it is that such a bewildering and disturbing ‘custom’ can have become a feature of their own communities and society.

Two factors in particular stand out as partial answers to this question.  

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 8: Prevention: Communities

Female genital mutilation is a complex business. It involves deeply entrenched beliefs, real and resolute social and economic forces, human agency of a particularly intimate nature, brutality and secrecy. It is also held by large numbers of those involved, and perhaps also by the recipient of the action, to be in the best interests of the person who experiences it.

These are not easy issues to unpick, and the path towards understanding and arresting the practice is further complicated by the gulf between the traditions and beliefs which engender and enable, even ennoble, FGM, and those which proclaim it without exception to be abhorrent abuse.

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