QUESTION: Female Genital Cutting

question / pregunta: 

Can anyone please tell me what the most recent research with cut women indicates about their position on pro-choice or other, with specific reference to cutting.


Answer posted by:
jim miller

We sent a request for clarification whether this means (1) How the practice of clitoridectomy affects those women or girls' attitudes toward the practice itself; or (2) How it affects their views on "pro choice" regarding abortion. As of 5/10/08, we have not heard back.

In either case, this topic will be tricky to research, because simply "ANDing" the words together in a search will get huge numbers of articles and reports on families', husbands', and societies' views - not just those views or feelings of the women who have undergone genital cutting. This research probably calls for a very broad search in medical, psychological, and sociological databases. For example, in, if you click the "Limits" tab just to lower left of the search box, click the choice "female" and search: clitoridectomy and attitudes, you get 117 hits. Many of these, even with that "Female" limit, still are talking about family and society attitudes. The search: clitoridectomy and abortion gets 7 hits. "Genital cutting" and abortion gets only one, which just seems to mention the prevalence of both practices and not the relationship of one to the other, let alone the attitudes.

The search: clitoridectomy and "women's attitudes" gets 3 hits, even when you remove the limit to Female". It's probably best to stay with very broad searches, because of the difficulty of pinning down with search terms precisely what you are after. Try synonyms or related terms: "female circumcision" and attitudes gets 135 hits; 115 if you limit to "Female".

It would be very wise to try this search at a major research or academic library, where you will have only on-site access to databases unless you are a current student. In Proquest Dissertations (Dissertation Abstracts), the search: (clitoridectomy or genital cutting or female circumcision) and attitude* gets 12 hits. There would be no point in trying to narrow this to only women's views, even if the apostrophe in "women's" didn't pose a problem for the search engine. It seems much wiser to have a quick look at all 12 of the abstracts - or even full text if the university that you use has access to any in full text. You can sometimes borrow dissertations on Interlibrary loan, even using your public library. But we recommend checking the libraries of the universities where they were published, to be sure there really is a copy on the shelf, and that it is available to be loaned. A quick way to do this is to search by title and author in Open Worldcat, which lists holding libraries and often will link to their catalogs. Dissertations are usually fairly expensive if you have to buy them; see Proquest's prices for academic customers.

The scholarly and technical database Psycinfo gets no results for the search: (clitoridectomy or "genital cutting" or "female circumcision") and attitude*. This may be largely because Psycinfo searches NO full text - only titles, subjects and journal titles. But the more general database Academic Search Premier also gets zero hits, even searching its very extensive full-text. ScienceDirect (also highly scholarly and technical) gets 212 hits for it if you search its full text back to 1980. But that is for the complete collection of Elsevier's journals, which not many libraries will have access to. In Science Direct you can choose "Subscribed Journals" to limit to just the ones the library subscribes to. JSTOR is more likely to be available, since it is a non-profit electronic journal archive used by many more libraries and publishers. It gets 28 hits for the same search: (clitoridectomy or "genital cutting" or "female circumcision") and attitude*.

working on it

This question has proven tricky, both to understand the meaning of the question and to find appropriate resources. A RadRef volunteer has been in contact - so be assured the question is not sitting idle - but any suggestions from volunteers are, as always, welcome.

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