Human rights organisations want to eliminate female circumcision completely in 2030. According to Annemarie Middelburg, PhD researcher at Tilburg University, this will not happen. Her advice: do not think in years, but in generations.
World wide, more than 200 million women and girls are circumcised. That will not change overnight. Middelburg conducted research in Senegal. Even though female circumcision in that country is prohibited by law, it still goes on unabated. This is because the government only has limited influence. The religious leader in a village is more powerful and female circumcision is the social norm.
An uncircumcised woman is seen as impure, says Middelburg in daily ND. “You cannot get get married, food you cook will not be eaten, clothes you touch while washing them will not be worn.” Even opponents circumcise their daughters, because they do not want them to become socially isolated. Despite all this, Middelburg is hopeful. Female circumcision will disappear, just not as fast as people hope.
Female circumcision is the social norm
Legal measures only have limited influence. Middelburg’s research describes factors that influence the compliance with the law, positively and negatively. Those factors usually are not legal, but religious and social. However, this is not a religious problem. “Female circumcision is not demanded in the Koran, or the Bible, or de Torah. The vast majority of Muslims does not perform this tradition.”
Annemarie Middelburg graduates on this topic on Friday.
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