Marginalization of Community Voices in Fighting Female Circumcision

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Western feminists have long framed female circumcision, also known, among other terms, as female genital mutilation, as a violation of the rights of women and girls and as an expression of gender inequality. This frame is undoubtedly justified in some cases, but the practice varies widely – from aggressive procedures, coercively imposed on women and girls, to benign cosmetic piercings that many women embrace. It is suggested that by universally approaching all forms of female circumcision as a violation of women’s rights, well-meaning activism may contribute to counter-productive interventions and diminishing efficacy of core struggles. My participatory action research, conducted in Kisii, Kenya, where community members are working through local organizations as part of a broader approach to solving multiple interconnected challenges, illustrates successful community-led interventions. Deserving of wider recognition in current discourses, such ways of being and knowing are undermined by an “intelligibility gap” that continuously questions legitimacy and acceptance of the most transformative, objective impact. By highlighting the integral role that community-led interventions play in fomenting positive change, the study challenges the prominence of unintentional and indirect application of control and power grounded in rationality, science, knowledge, and ways of being.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Harmful Cultural Practices
EditorsMaria Jaschok, U. H. Ruhina Jesmin, Tobe Levin von Gleichen, Comfort Momoh
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003316701
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2023

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