Bolokoli, khifad, tahara,
tahoor, qudiin, irua, bondo,
kuruna, negekorsigin, and kene-kene are
a few of the terms used in local African languages to denote a set
of cultural practices collectively known as female circumcision.
Practiced in many countries across Africa and Asia, this ritual is
hotly debated. Supporters regard it as a central coming-of-age
ritual that ensures chastity and promotes fertility. Human rights
groups denounce the procedure as barbaric. It is estimated that
between 100 million and 130 million girls and women today have
undergone forms of this genital surgery.
Female Circumcision gathers together African activists to
examine the issue within its various cultural and historical
contexts, the debates on circumcision regarding African refugee and
immigrant populations in the United States, and the human rights
efforts to eradicate the practice. This work brings African women's
voices into the discussion, foregrounds indigenous processes of
social and cultural change, and demonstrates the manifold linkages
between respect for women's bodily integrity, the empowerment of
women, and democratic modes of economic development.
This volume does not focus narrowly on female circumcision as a set
of ritualized surgeries sanctioned by society. Instead, the
contributors explore a chain of connecting issues and processes
through which the practice is being transformed in local and
transnational contexts. The authors document shifts in local views
to highlight processes of change and chronicle the efforts of
diverse communities as agents in the process of cultural and social
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