Reflections on Female Circumcision Discourse in Hargeysa, Somaliland: Purified or Mutilated?

Elin Vestbøstad, Astrid Blystad


In communities where female circumcision is carried out, increasingly large segments of the population have been exposed to strong arguments against the practice. This study aimed to explore diverse discourses on female circumcision and the relationship between discourses and practice among informants who have been exposed both to local and global discourses on female circumcision. A qualitative study was carried out in 2009/10 in Hargeysa, Somaliland, employing interviews and informal discussion. The main categories of informants were nurses, nursing students, returned exile Somalis and development workers. The study findings suggest that substantial change has taken place about perceptions and practice related to female circumcision; the topic is today openly discussed, albeit more in the public than in the private arena. An important transformation moreover seems to be taking place primarily from the severe forms (pharaoni) to the less extensive forms (Sunna). (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[2]: 22-35).


Keywords: pharaoni, sunna, FGM, infibulation,



Dans les communautés où l'excision est pratiquée, de grandes parties de la population ont été exposées à de forts arguments contre la pratique. Cette étude vise à explorer les diverses discours sur l'excision et la relation entre les discours et la pratique parmi les informateurs qui ont été exposés à la fois à des discours locaux et mondiaux sur l'excision. Une étude qualitative a été menée en 2009/10, à Hargeisa, au Somaliland, en utilisant des entrevues et des discussions informelles. Les principales catégories d'informateurs étaient des infirmières, des étudiants en soins infirmiers,  des Somaliens qui revenaient de l’exil et des agents de développement. Les résultats de l'étude suggèrent que les changements importants ont eu lieu sur les perceptions et les pratiques liées à l'excision; le sujet est aujourd'hui ouvertement discuté, mais plus dans le domaine public que dans le domaine privé. Une transformation importante semble d'ailleurs avoir lieu principalement à partir des formes sévères ( pharaoni ) jusqu’aux formes moins vastes ( de sunna ). (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18[2]: 22-35).


Motsclés: pharaoni, sunna, MGF, infibulation

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