Cover image courtesy of Tostan.
Written by Alayna Weldon, The University of Oklahoma
Tostan is a humanitarian group that, out of many issues, focuses on educating rural communities in several west African communities on the health risks of female circumcision, describing it as a “harmful practice”. Female circumcision, FGC, or FGM is a practice that is regarded by most of Western society as “barbaric” and often is portrayed alongside depictions of young girls being dragged by their parents to a dingy back room to be mutilated with a knife or razor blade to control her sexuality and prepare her for an unwanted husband. These horrific tales are often followed with lists of all the short-term and long-term health risks that accompany female circumcision and a statement that most young girls who are forced to undergo female circumcision often suffer deaths related to the procedure. These portrayals, however, are often based on incomplete or faulty data analysis and very little definitive evidence; they are instead a Western projection of a non-Western cultural tradition that has faced cultural clashes since the first Western missionaries dealt out denouncements of and attempts at a custom that was associated with barbarism because of its non-Western origin. The effect of this polarized portrayal is that non-Western perspectives on the cultural importance of female circumcision are forgotten about; portrayals and teachings that are included in Tostan’s effort against female circumcision, while meant to allow communities to draw their own conclusion, cannot provide full education over female circumcision because only the Western perspective is taught. The cultural relativism of female circumcision is disregarded in lieu of asserting Western beliefs.
Tostan founder, Molly Melching .
Tostan logo .
Tostan is a 501(c)(3) organization that was founded in 1991 who work in five west African countries . Tostan founder Molly Melching began her work in 1974 as an exchange student in Senegal who found a passion “in the field of developmental studies” . In starting her humanitarian efforts to address developmental shortcomings in rural villages, Melching worked with a group of Senegalese specialists to develop the Community Empowerment Program (CEP). The CEP used original humanitarian tactics to foster community engagement – by working in local languages and traditional community methods of education, Melching’s CEP method was designed to foster community-led change . This method was adopted by Tostan to facilitate partnership between communities and Tostan. Working in The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Senegal , Tostan works with communities to expand access to resources for education, health, economic growth, governance, and environmental sustainability. Several other issues are a focus for Tostan during their community works that are “related to gender and social norms” in the areas they work .These issues address child protection and empowerment of women and girls; both focuses have a basis in working to eradicate female genital cutting (FGC) . Tostan identifies FGC as a practice that “hinders [the] development] of women and children in communities where Tostan works and is associated with child protection risks and female empowerment hinderances . Tostan’s website stated that as of 2020, over 300,000 global participants have participated in efforts that have “positively influenced… over 5.5 million lives… by the movement to abandon harmful traditional practices” . To Tostan, FGC is a notable “harmful traditional practice” . To a foundation based on the beliefs of a Western founder, female genital cutting would be deemed harmful to communities; however, even with this group’s focus on remaining culturally integrated with the communities they work in, there is little African perspective input related to Tostan’s view on female genital cutting. Little background information or historical context is relayed by Tostan’s informational page and FGC is relayed only in biased or assertive terminology. The manner in which that Tostan portrays is indicative of belying cultural assumptions based on conflicts between Western and non-Western societal traditions and beliefs.
Female Circumcision in Africa
Female circumcision is often a highly emotional topic for people to discuss worldwide. Western societies and groups, including Tostan, view female circumcision, or FGC, through the lens of Western cultures rather than considering the implication that female circumcision has on the communities who practice this rite of passage. However, this is a detrimental first step for any group to take when addressing female circumcision in practicing communities. Female circumcision is referred to by several similar names (female genital cutting, female genital mutilation, and female circumcision); to maintain objectivity and refrain from titles with loaded or negative connotations, this analyzation will refer to any form of genital cutting or modification as female circumcision unless quoted otherwise. Many Western misconceptions and assumptions pervade the truth about female circumcision. Tostan’s informational website introduces female circumcision as following: “More than just a harmful practice, [female genital cutting] FGC is a deeply rooted social norm enforced by community expectations around marriageability. By having a daughter cut, the family ensures that she will be a desirable marriage prospect” . Tostan’s observation is not altogether wrong, but the manner in which it introduced allows no varying opinion on female circumcision as anything other than harmful. It is not an isolated belief or observation of female circumcision: “[Female genital mutilation] is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women… [reflecting] the deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination” . The portrayal of female circumcision often follows very similar scripts of families dragging young girls off to small, dirty, and dingy places to be forcefully held down while undergoing a traumatic violation of their safety and rights, all for the sake of keeping their daughters lesser than a future husband. This portrayal is exasperated by a lack of “ambivalence” or compromise on the part of Westerners . The origins of female circumcision are often described as “primitive” attempts to “establish control” over a woman’s sexuality . Even terminology nuances establish Western predispositions and biases – in clarifying the differences between “female genital cutting” and “female genital mutilation”, the FGM National Clinic Group introduced “mutilation” as following: “The word ‘mutilation’ although accurate can be seen as judgmental” . ‘Although accurate’ – this description leaves no room for the unbiased consideration of supportive viewpoints in regards to female circumcision procedures. Female circumcision has been simplified as being “described in terms of physical mutilation and denial of sexual pleasure… without enquiring about the meanings ascribed to the practice” . While Tostan provides education about female circumcision, modern global human rights accords, and all health issues that could follow female circumcision procedures, their work is based on projected Western ideologies and beliefs that ignore the cultural importance of female circumcision in practicing communities and the perspectives of women who defend female circumcision.
As of February 2020, UNICEF recognized that at least 200 million girls and women had undergone circumcision procedures in 31 countries . While there are undeniable cases of young girls and women being forced to undergo forced circumcision, many girls and women undergo circumcision procedures willingly. However, Western organizations do not portray female circumcision in this light. The OASH Office on Women’s Health, when discussing why the United States considers FGC/M to be “violence against women and child abuse”, states that “many girls have FGC/M forced on them and have no choice about whether it happens” . This claim is unfollowed with any source or data. This lack of evidence is not an isolated case. Carla Obermeyer, Harvard medical anthropologist and epidemiologist, analyzed 435 articles that focused on the medical, demographic, and social standpoint of “‘female circumcision’ or ‘female genital mutilation’” and found that “in most publications in which statements were made about the devastating effects of female circumcision no evidence was presented at all… [and] despite their deficiencies, some of the published reports have come to acquire an aura of dependability through repeated and uncritical citations” . Obermeyer’s analysis of journal articles found serious and numerous methodology flaws and “quality-control problems” that should have dampened the credibility of these sources  are indicative of projected Western ideologies being taken as the one, most important, and truest of facts. An example of such faulty research appeared one of the top ten results in a Google Scholar search regarding any journal articles pertaining to female circumcision: in arguing that increased media and education are linked to a shifting attitude of discontinuing “FGM”, six researchers studied results from seven African countries. However, these countries are chosen based on “language barriers”, these seven countries were chosen based on the prevalence of English databases . This immediately implies Western influence in the region for an extended period of time and shows that the researchers did not consider any perspectives not pervaded by Western beliefs worth obtaining through translations. While peer reviews pointed out this methodological issue, this maneuver is indicative of a greater issue at hand.
Female circumcision occurs in various levels of modification. Four types of circumcision are recognized by WHO, based on varying levels and locations of genital modification; WHO recognizes many factors contributing to the prevalence of the circumcising of young girls and women, though most center around cultural and societal expectative factors . WHO’s article on female circumcision refers to the practice as female genital mutilation and the only education provided is the classifications of circumcision procedures, umbrella social causes that propionate female circumcision, and the health issues following circumcision procedures . What is interesting about WHO’s article on associated health risks is their mentioning of health care providers: “WHO is opposed to all forms of FGM and strongly urges health care providers to not carry out FGM even when their patient or their patient’s family requests it” . While urging health care providers to not follow through on female circumcision requests made by family members could be argued as a step in protecting patient rights, WHO urges health care providers to reject the wishes of their patients. This is a complete rejection of the cultural and traditional roots that women hold through practices such as circumcision. Jomo Kenyatta wrote in his 1938 Ph.D. thesis wrote that a 1931 Geneva conference beheld “several European delegates [urging] that the time was ripe when this “barbarous custom” should be abolished, and that, like all other “heathen” customs, it should be abolished by law” . A mindset of regarding non-Western African cultures and traditions as barbaric is no new phenomenon, but this mindset is detrimental to the effectiveness of determining possible solutions to such highly polarized debates such as female circumcision. To combat this excluding mindset, the origins of the female circumcision are important to determine and understand.
Female circumcision in African cultures is often attributed to patriarchal requirements and an extension of religious practices. Female circumcision is never mentioned in any religious text, this is important to understand immediately. Though never mentioned nor required by any religions, female circumcision has been conflated with African religion because of the clash, interaction with, and eventual meld of African traditions and the spread of Christianity through missionary work. Some African theologists argue that there existed a pre-colonial “African traditional religion(s) (ATR)”, in which spiritual health and practices were acknowledged through the acceptance of and belief in a higher power, ‘the Sacred’; the possible acceptance of a higher power in pre-colonialism African belief systems would have aided in the diffusion of Christianity in African communities . Female circumcision is a practice that pre-dates colonialism and originated over 2000 years, though no true origins have been finitely defined . Upon the spread of Christianity, as with any blend of cultures, a clash arose and missionary forces denounced female circumcision. Missionaries denounced female circumcision because of a sense of competition between Christian missionary authority and traditional tribal authority . This was not a new circumstance, as many African Christian converts often faced contradictions between the following of traditional practices and the newfound devotion to Christianity; however, these Christian converts rarely faced personal conflict because “’in their minds the values common to both [cultures] had blended and become whole’” . Why then are traditional practices – such as female circumcision – considered ‘barbaric’ or ‘heathen’? The conflict between Western and non-Western societal often leaves non-Western beliefs and practices to be considered lesser than and less true, as “wrongful beliefs… were degenerates and corruptions of earlier revealed truths” . Missionaries and colonial-age scholars based their analysis of female circumcision off the prevailing idea that Christianity and Western cultures were truths, as compared to pre-Colonial traditional practices. However, “when scholars adopt religion as a way to understand situations in which Africans did not articulate religion, they accept… a reification of Western… truths with other peoples’ supposed fallacies” . As for female circumcisions’ being attributed to patriarchal control, there are many fallacies that arise in consideration of this claim. Various ethnic groups across Africa practice female circumcision, and while some may be patriarchal, “some (such as the Kono, a matrilineal society) are not” . Intertwined with the idea of patriarchy, female circumcision has often also been attributed to controlling female sexuality and sexual pleasure. WHO states that a long-term health risk of female circumcision procedures “can… have an effect on women’s sexual health and well-being”, such as decreased pleasure or desire, pain during sex, and lack of orgasms, anorgasmia . Female circumcision is not related to controlled sexuality. Some practicing communities do care about female purity and premarital sexual restraint, but “some (such as the Gikuyu) are more relaxed about premarital sexual play and are not puritanical” . As for male patriarchal control over women, male community leaders may propionate the practice for upholding cultural traditions but the “practice is almost always controlled, performed, and most strongly upheld by women” . Some studies are noticing a trend that “substantially more men than women want [female circumcision] to end”, so the Western claims that female circumcision is based on patriarchal control are often made with very little evidence and backing . As for diminishing female pleasure, very few studies have been administered to prove this. One study, however, found that women who had been circumcised were still able to achieve orgasm: 86% of women polled reported almost always achieving orgasm and 69.23% reported always achieving orgasm . Research among the Kikuyu communities practicing female circumcision revealed the same, as Robert Edgerton stated that “Kikuyu men and women, like those of several other East African societies… assured me in 1961-62 that circumcised women continue to be orgasmic” . Views on female circumcision being seen as patriarchal, subverting, and sexually harmful are undoubtedly skewed, both by insufficient research and cultural assumptions. These skewed assumptions are harmful, however, for the communities who practice and support female circumcision, as these views are often worded to be “alarmist claims” that “may not be true”, especially with the lacking definitive and substantial research cited by many anti-female circumcision advocates .
Western cultural perspectives often wash out the perspectives of those who support female circumcision because of predisposed biases towards non-Western cultural practices that are often seen as “barbaric”. However, the perspectives of the cultures practicing female circumcision are arguably more important to consider, as these perspectives are those of communities who would be affected by global initiatives and female circumcision bans. Women who support female circumcision do so for several reasons. As a traditional practice, circumcision plays an important aspect in appreciation and continuation of a culture’s traditions. This practice is also seen as a test of courage and a rite into adulthood. A young girl not only enters womanhood after being circumcised: a young girl becomes an equal with her male counterpart for enduring the same rite of circumcision that a young boy must undergo to be accepted by his community as coming into manhood. Beauty standards in communities who practice female circumcision are also a factor, as an uncut body is seen as unclean and less attractive or mature. At the root of the desire for young girls to undergo this procedure is a sense of solidarity and community for these young girls and women. Female circumcision is a landmark rite of passage that has “been carried out longer than anyone loving can remember” . In Kurian society, this rite is long awaited and anticipated, as it involved the first opportunities for young male and female initiates to undertake adult responsibilities and collective living with others of the opposite sex . For young girls to undergo the actual circumcision procedure, either with or without anesthesia, is a testament to the courage and stamina that a girl possesses and solidifies her place as an adult worthy of undertaking the trials of life . Some practicing communities initiate young boys and girls together, circumcision procedure included, in order treat them “equally before the common law and [introduce] them into responsible adulthood in parallel ways” . This procedure is not thought of as a “mutilation”, as it is portrayed to the global community. Many women from non-Western societies view circumcision to be “an improvement over female genitalia in their natural state” and is considered a sign of beauty and cleanliness ; . A circumcised body is a woman’s body, and this fact alone gives circumcision a more positive outlook for girls from communities who practice female circumcision. The young girls who are from circumcision-practicing communities and are presented with this option view this initiation procedure with anticipation, as they have grown up believing female circumcision to be not only an initiation into womanhood and social equality with their future husbands, but also that circumcision is a key to beauty, hygiene, and womanhood.
Attempts have been made throughout the 20th century to dispel this age-old cultural practice. However, criminalizing or disbanding a cultural tradition so deeply rooted as female circumcision often leads only to resentment and resistance on the parts of those who support female circumcision. A 1956 clitoridectomy (a term used just in reference to a single type of only female circumcision) ban in Meru, Kenya is a clear example. In response to the ban, over 2,400 were arrested for defying a complete ban on female circumcision. A song, sung in prison labor camps in Mt. Kenya, expresses the desires for the government to allow girls to be circumcised in order to enter their adulthood. In response to the ban, female circumcisions were completed with razor blades found in stores rather than safe and hygienic clinics . Advocates for the allowing of female circumcision cited the calls for clitoridectomy eradication as a “neo colonial” attempt at controlling the culture of African communities while detracting attention from more important developmental issues that these communities face . This response shows two important facts: firstly, that those who wish to gain circumcision will do so no matter the obstacles or increased risks, in this case improper equipment in a non-clinical environment, in order to fulfill the rites of passage they believe in undergoing; secondly, African communities facing backlash from Westerners recognize that Western intrusion in cultural traditions is indicative of a projection of Western beliefs onto a non-Western society and culture.
After centuries of being viewed from an outside perspective and facing the projections of outside ideologies, female circumcision has become a “violation of the human rights of girls and children” . However, from the perspective of those wishing to undergo female circumcision, this practice is seen as a right and a privilege, a necessary aspect of their cultures, and a symbol of maturity and womanhood. The global debate of female circumcision is largely based on the word of Western groups and organizations seeking to eradicate the practice for the rights of affected women and girls. Groups such as Tostan present female circumcision in possibly offensive and derogatory titles and describe the practice as “harmful” and a societal expectation that most girls are pressured into for fear of community ostracization and lacking marriageability. These descriptions are fueled by a world-wide movement to eradicate female circumcision, believing to portrayal that groups such as Tostan project; a portrayal that suggests actions against circumcision practices would be welcomed. This is based on claims and evidence that has “not been carefully scrutinized with regard to reliable evidence” . Approval or disapproval in regards to female circumcision often shows very clear lines between cultures that relate to approval: “among members of ethnic groups for whom female circumcision is part of their cultural heritage, approval ratings are generally rather high” and “women who endorse female circumcision typically argue that it is an important part of their cultural heritage or their religion, while women who do not endorse the practice typically argue that it is not permitted by their cultural heritage or their religion” . These clear-cut lines show only one culprit: cultural relativism.
No one person, especially of a Western perspective, is able to determine a right or wrong answer to this debate because there is no right or wrong answer. Every provided answer is based off of individual experiences and perspectives, both cultural and societal. Instead of finding a right or wrong answer to force an entire globe to adhere to, open and candid discussions should be had that promote the acceptance of cultural relativism and differences in order to find solutions that benefit the society in question, instead of promoting the ideology that Western ideals and beliefs are right above all else, even over the perspectives that are affected most by Western interference. This includes polarized topics such as female circumcision – “more than just a harmful practice”, as Tostan describes, female circumcision is a cultural custom dating back 2,000 years that is engrained in and an important aspect of some non-Western societies. Practicing societies deserve the respect of recognizing that there is cultural relativism and varying perspectives of importance and adherence influencing the stances on this topic. This is the shortcomings of Tostan’s current work pertaining to female circumcision. Instead of presenting female circumcision in an open manner and keeping an open discussion, Tostan works to educate communities only based on Western beliefs to convince communities that is in their interest to abandon a traditional practice that Westerners have never experienced as culturally important.
This post may have been edited by admin for clarity and length.
“Areas of Impact.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/areas of-impact/.
Bright, Opoku A. “Factors Associated with Female Genital Mutilation among Women of Reproductive Age and Girls Aged 0–14 in Chad: A Mixed-Effects Multilevel Analysis of the 2014–2015 Chad Demographic and Health Survey Data.” BMC Public Health, vol. 21, 2021, pp. 1-11. ProQuest, https://login.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login?url=https://www proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/scholarly-journals/factors-associated-with-female genital-mutilation/docview/2491400931/se-2?accountid=12964, doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.1186/s12889-021-10293-y.
Catania, Lucrezia, et al. “Pleasure and Orgasm in Women with Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).” The Journey of Sexual Medicine, vol. 4, no. 6, 23 Oct. 2007, pp. 1666–1678., doi:https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.1111/j.1743- 6109.2007.00620.x.
Dalal, Koustuv, et al. “Adolescent Girls’ Attitudes Toward Female Genital Mutilation: A Study in Seven African Countries.” F1000Research, vol. 7, 2018, pp. 343. ProQuest, https://login.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/scholarly-journals/adolescent-girls-attitudes-toward-female genital/docview/2060870906/se-2?accountid=12964, doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.12688/f1000research.14142.1.
“Female Genital Cutting.” Tostan: Dignity for All, Tostan International, 2020, www.tostan.org/areas-of-impact/cross-cutting-gender-social-norms/female-genital cutting/.
“Female Genital Cutting.” Womenshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health, 1 Apr. 2019, www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/female-genital-cutting.
“Female Genital Mutilation.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 3 Feb. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation.
“Female Genital Mutilation (Fgm) Statistics,” March 30, 2021. https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/female-genital-mutilation/.
FGM National Clinical Group – Historical & Cultural, FGM National Clinical Group, 2015, www.fgmnationalgroup.org/historical_and_cultural.htm.
“Health Risks of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2021, www.who.int/teams/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and research/areas-of-work/female-genital-mutilation/health-risks-of-female-genital mutilation.
“Intersecting Issues.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/areas-of-impact/cross-cutting-gender-social-norms/.
Landau, Paul. “‘Religion’ and Christian Conversion in African History: A New Model.” The Journal of Religious History, vol. 23, no. 1, Nov. 1999, pp. 8–30.
Prazak, Miroslava. “Introducing Alternative Rites of Passage.” Africa Today, vol. 53, no. 4, 2007, pp. 19–40.
Schweder, Richard A. “What About ‘Female Genital Mutilation’? And Why Understand Cultural Matters in the First Place.” Daedalus, vol. 129, no. 4, 24 Jan. 2011, pp. 209–232.
Thomas, Lynn M. “’Ngaitana (I Will Circumcise Myself)”: The Gender and Generational Politics of the 1956 Ban on Clitoridectomy in Meru, Kenya.” Gender and History, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 338–363.
“Vision, Mission & History.” Tostan International. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/about-us/mission-history/.
“Where We Work.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/programs/where-we-work/.
 “Vision, Mission & History.” Tostan International. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/about-us/mission-history/.
 “Where We Work.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/programs/where-we-work/.
 “Areas of Impact.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/areas of-impact/.
 “Intersecting Issues.” Tostan International. Accessed May 13, 2021. https://www.tostan.org/areas-of-impact/cross-cutting-gender-social-norms/.
 “Female Genital Cutting.” Tostan: Dignity for All, Tostan International, 2020, www.tostan.org/areas-of-impact/cross-cutting-gender-social-norms/female-genital cutting/.
 “Female Genital Mutilation.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 3 Feb. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation.
 Prazak, Miroslava. “Introducing Alternative Rites of Passage.” Africa Today, vol. 53, no. 4, 2007, pp. 19–40.
 FGM National Clinical Group – Historical & Cultural, FGM National Clinical Group, 2015, www.fgmnationalgroup.org/historical_and_cultural.htm.
 “Female Genital Mutilation (Fgm) Statistics,” March 30, 2021. https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/female-genital-mutilation/.
 “Female Genital Cutting.” Womenshealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health, 1 Apr. 2019, www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/female-genital-cutting.
 Schweder, Richard A. “What About ‘Female Genital Mutilation’? And Why Understand Cultural Matters in the First Place.” Daedalus, vol. 129, no. 4, 24 Jan. 2011, pp. 209–232.
 Dalal, Koustuv, et al. “Adolescent Girls’ Attitudes Toward Female Genital Mutilation: A Study in Seven African Countries.” F1000Research, vol. 7, 2018, pp. 343. ProQuest, https://login.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/scholarly-journals/adolescent-girls-attitudes-toward-female genital/docview/2060870906/se-2?accountid=12964, doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.12688/f1000research.14142.1.
 “Health Risks of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 2021, www.who.int/teams/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and research/areas-of-work/female-genital-mutilation/health-risks-of-female-genital mutilation.
 Landau, Paul. “‘Religion’ and Christian Conversion in African History: A New Model.” The Journal of Religious History, vol. 23, no. 1, Nov. 1999, pp. 8–30.
 Bright, Opoku A. “Factors Associated with Female Genital Mutilation among Women of Reproductive Age and Girls Aged 0–14 in Chad: A Mixed-Effects Multilevel Analysis of the 2014–2015 Chad Demographic and Health Survey Data.” BMC Public Health, vol. 21, 2021, pp. 1-11. ProQuest, https://login.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/login?url=https://www proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/scholarly-journals/factors-associated-with-female genital-mutilation/docview/2491400931/se-2?accountid=12964, doi: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.1186/s12889-021-10293-y.
 Catania, Lucrezia, et al. “Pleasure and Orgasm in Women with Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).” The Journey of Sexual Medicine, vol. 4, no. 6, 23 Oct. 2007, pp. 1666–1678., doi: https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.ou.edu/10.1111/j.1743- 6109.2007.00620.x.
 Thomas, Lynn M. “’Ngaitana (I Will Circumcise Myself)”: The Gender and Generational Politics of the 1956 Ban on Clitoridectomy in Meru, Kenya.” Gender and History, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 338–363.