Stories and strategies of women living with female genital mutilation in Auckland communities

Said, Ayan
Conn, Cath
Neave, Penny
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Master of Public Health
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Auckland University of Technology

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a significant health problem for young girls and women; it is a harmful cultural practice that involves the cutting of the external genitalia. Many communities around the world have been practicing FGM for thousands of years. However, given the longstanding and socio-cultural nature of FGM it is a difficult problem to address. FGM become an increase concern for New Zealand in the early 90’s with the growing number of refugees and migrants from countries that practice FGM. This study explores the stories of women living with FGM in Auckland, to capture the strategies they propose for addressing FGM, with a focus on the Somali, Eritrean, Indonesian and Kurdish communities. In this study the method that was utilized was a qualitative descriptive methodology, using semi-structured individual interviews and one focus group discussion with one woman from each of the communities. The finding in this study highlighted that those participants who remembered the experience (2 women) spoke of the physical and emotional trauma of the event. All discussed long-term socio-cultural and health effects. One person gave details of their experiences with the New Zealand healthcare system. The participants mainly consider education as central to prevention; also the law is seen as a deterrent to FGM practice but they had little knowledge of the rights’ debates. In Conclusion despite decades of prevention programmes and global rights based legislation and targets there has been little shift in FGM prevalence internationally. This thesis argues that there is a need for strategies to prevent FGM that use a more culturally appropriate and community based approaches, moving beyond global statements. These strategies also apply to the New Zealand context, which needs to take into consideration the diversity of FGM practicing communities.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) , Somali; Eritrean; Indonesian; Kurdish , New Zealand
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