chapter  7
10 Pages

Challenging Mind-Sets: The Diverse Voices of African Women

ByAisha Omar

As highlighted by Bradley and Longman in Chapter 2, there is very little literature that explores how circumcised or (and in contradiction to the previous author) as I would rather call it mutilated women, are treated in diaspora communities. Additionally, this chapter also builds on my previous work in Bradley (2011) in which I offer some life histories of cut women from within my own Somalian community. One of those stories was in fact my own and in this chapter I offer a continuation of my experiences of living with FGM. The motivation for taking this approach is to ensure that my voice and those of other women in my community are heard and responded to. As highlighted in Chapter 2, the eradicate FGM movement in the UK has become highly politicised, not least because of the amount of money being ploughed into it. The voices of women at the grass roots are marginal to a more public and global campaign. Building on the arguments made by Bradley and Longman in this volume I argue here that more attention needs to be focused on how women experience and view FGM. Women from within so-called cutting communities do not speak with one voice and that is clear both from the work presented in other chapters of this volume and also in the case studies I present below. This chapter also explores the impact or not that migration has on how practices are observed. In doing so it attempts to respond to the gap in research highlighted in chapter two looking at how HCPs may change as people move from one country to another. I have therefore chosen to concentrate on four specific case studies, of African immigrants to the UK, with the first case study from North America. The chapter then begins with a review of literature that explores the impact of migration on the ethnic-cultural identities of migrants and considers what factors if any trigger changes in mind-set. The chapter then moves into presenting four case studies, the first is reproduced from a personal published testimony of an African American woman who opted to undergo FGM in her home country of Sierra Leone. The next two case studies I recorded and came out of discussions I had with Somali women living in London. The last case study represents my own reflections of living with FGM as a mother. In the conclusion I try and offer some hope that the practice is gradually being phased out although the path of change is slow and fraught.