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“Between Two Cultures”

A Rapid PEER Study Exploring Migrant Communities’ Views on Female Genital Mutilation in Essex and Norfolk, UK

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deeply rooted tradition, widely practiced among specific ethnic populations in Africa and parts of the Middle East, Asia and South America which serves as a complex form of social control of women`s sexual and reproductive rights. Women who have experienced FGM are increasingly found in the United Kingdom due to migration from countries where the practice is prevalent. Additionally, some communities continue the practice even after they have arrived in the UK, due to the cultural and traditional norms that influence the continuation of the practice. UK communities at risk of FGM include Kenyans, Somalis, Sudanese, Sierra Leoneans, Egyptians, Nigerians and Eritreans. Those from non-African communities that are at risk of FGM include Yemeni, Kurdish, Indonesian and Pakistani women.

The Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) was contracted by the FGM National Centre led by Barnardo’s to conduct a rapid Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research (PEER) study among UK based migrants who originate from FGM affected communities to help shed more light on this issue and to support their community engagement programme.

This report shares the findings from this rapid PEER study, carried out by migrant women and men living in Norfolk and Essex, UK. Eighteen Peer Researchers, (15 women and 3 men) were recruited through local community organisations and trained and supported by FORWARD and Barnardo’s to design and carry out conversational interviews with their peers focusing on life in the UK, and FGM. The study focused on low prevalence areas as identified in the UK Prevalence study on FGM.

The aims of this research were to:

  • Shed light on the lived realities of migrants from these countries and gain insights into their communities’ views on FGM in the UK as well as back in their country of origin.
  • For the first time, research attitudes and support for FGM in predominantly white British areas that are considered “low prevalence” for the practice.
  • Use the findings to inform and strengthen FGM prevention programmes.
  • Empower those involved in the research, strengthening their voice and ensuring that they are at the centre of research and programmes that concern them.