Abdel Halim, Asma M.
Dr. Asma Abdel Halim is Assistant Professor at the department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toledo, Ohio. She holds a Ph.D. in Education, Social Studies, College of Education and a MAIA (Master in International Affairs) – African Studies from Ohio University. Dr. Adel Halim earned a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Commercial Law from the Faculty of law, University of Khartoum, Sudan.2006 0-7734-5675-9
This is a qualitative study of the experiences of circumcised Sudanese women in the United States. It looks into how immigration has affected the cultural perceptions of women, in particular their views about female circumcision (FC). Questions and conversations with the women in this study are focused on what has changed in their lives that resulted in a change of attitude or behavior. Three focus groups of women of different age groups participated in the research. One woman of each group was interviewed in depth. Open-ended questions and semi structured interviews were conducted.
The findings included changes in married women’s perception of their culture and a high level of awareness of why the change came about; a profound change in gender relations inside the home; acceptance of these changes, as good and necessary, despite strong ties with the home culture; and most importantly, an activism side to their change of attitude towards FC; it is no longer lip service to change, they have decided to take action and protect their daughters from FC. They do not see themselves as changing the culture by giving up FC, as they believe that the culture is to protect virginity and curb sexual freedom, whereas FC is only a process within the culture to ensure that virginity. They will keep the culture and do away with FC as a harmful process. The study found that this activism edge stemmed from their personal experiences of humiliation and horror during childbirth.
Younger unmarried women saw FC as a practice that deprived them of their bodily integrity and took away their ability to make their own decisions. They are still fettered by the continued control of their families in the Sudan and of the immigrant community that does not look kindly at those who break away from the culture.
Older women did not change their mind about the “benefits” of FC but saw it as detrimental to their granddaughters’ health and status in the United States. Since it is meant to benefit and young girls would face harm rather than good, they expressed willingness to accept uncircumcised granddaughters in America.