West African Immigrant Perspectives on Female Genital Cutting: Experiences, Attitudes, and Implications for Mental Health Service Providers

  • Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith
  • Tracy Chu
  • Ludmila N. Krivitsky


This small pilot study analyzed the experiences of female genital cutting (FGC) among West African immigrants in New York City from three West African countries (the Gambia, Guinea, and Mali) with FGC prevalence rates of 76, 97, and 89%, respectively, among girls and women aged 15 to 49 years. Nine women participated in two focus group sessions. In the first group, five female participants ranged in age from18–20, and in the second, four participants ranged in age from 31 to 44. Focus group data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Despite the small sample size, the findings of this exploratory study highlight important aspects of immigrant women’s experiences regarding FGC and indicate the need for further exploration. Participants drew from personal experiences to discuss FGC and their views of the practice. Salient themes that emerged included the secretive and violent nature of the practice, the primacy of matriarchal decision-makers, the fear among immigrant mothers that their children would be subjected to FGC without their consent, and health care encounters in the USA. The findings of this study are considered in light of their implications for research, service provision, and policy.


Female genital cutting Female circumcision Female genital mutilation African immigrants Gender-based violence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tracy Chu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ludmila N. Krivitsky
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, The Colin Powell School of Civic and Global ServiceThe City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate CenterThe City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Brooklyn CollegeBrooklynUSA
  4. 4.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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