"A third of all families with background in countries where circumcision is a norm is planning to continue with the custom. It assesses women who have participated in a study by Karolinska institute. "The social pressure to secure family honor is so strong," says researcher Vanja Berggren.
The researchers have interviewed eight women originating in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. One of the women was born here while the others have lived in Sweden for between 13 and 20 years. Everyone finds that the pressure to circumcise daughters is extremely strong, and believe that one third of the families whose background is in countries where circumcision is the norm intends to carry out the intervention on their own girls.
"It is part of the culture of honor. The women indicate the importance of continuing circumcision to insure the virgin's virginity, thereby securing the family's honor," says Vanja Berggren, one of the authors of the study.
Several of the women say they are experiencing an inner conflict and mean that they do not really want to continue with the custom.
The pressure is perceived as strongest when the family visits the home country during the vacation.
Some parents feel worried that relatives will take the daughter to a circumcision without knowing about it.
How the women plan to carry out the surgery are not shown by the study. But a woman stated that she had traveled to London to circumcise her daughter, despite being illegal in Britain too.
According to Vanja Berggren, more information is required from the authorities.
- A woman had lived in Sweden for 20 years before she found out that circumcision was illegal three years ago.
Vanja Berggren is involved in the Ministry of Education's investigation of how school staff should handle pupils who have become or at risk of being genital mutilated. The investigators will recommend the authorities to publish more information about Swedish legislation before the summer vacation. One suggestion is that everyone will be able to download a certificate of law, which they can then show to their relatives in their home country.
As it is now, the silence around the question is the biggest threat to all the girls in the risk zone, she believes.
Karolinska institute's study "Perceptions and experiences of female genital mutilation after immigration to Sweden: an explorative study" was published in 2013.
"There is no statistical study, but the result indicates that this is an issue that is important to continue exploring in Sweden."
Added: "Perceptions and experiences of female genital mutilation after immigration to Sweden: an explorative study," researchgate.net
"The aim of this study is to explore how women from part of the world where female genital mutilation (FGM) is normative perceive and experience FGM after immigrating to Sweden. Interviews were conducted with eight women from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The women's feelings were ambivalent: though they opposed FGM, on the one hand, because of its negative effects on health, they acknowledged the practice's positive cultural aspects on the other hand. The themes that emerged from the interviews are the role of FGM in ensuring virginity and protecting a family's honor, its role in avoiding shame and enhancing purity, social pressure experienced after immigration, an understanding of FGM as a symbol of the country of origin, and support for changing the tradition. These findings indicate that women originating from communities where FGM is normative live in a context in which the practice is viewed as an important aspect of life even after immigration. More research concerning this complex and deeply rooted cultural issue is recommended."
Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256664464_Perceptions_and_experiences_of_female_genital_mutilation_after_immigration_to_Sweden_An_explorative_study