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The Somali community living in Kenya (and in their native Somalia) has practiced the severest form of female genital cutting (FGC)—infibulation—for centuries. To understand the context within which the practice takes place, and how its complications are managed, the Population Council’s Frontiers in Reproductive Health Program undertook a diagnostic study that confirmed that FGC is a deeply rooted and widely supported cultural practice. Several closely related reasons are used to sustain the practice: religious obligation, family honor, and virginity as a prerequisite for marriage; an aesthetic preference for infibulated genitalia was also mentioned. The study also found that the health sector is ill equipped to serve women who have been cut, particularly infibulated pregnant women. Specific recommendations were made about the ways in which the health system could strengthen its handling of FGC among the Somali: policymakers should seek to improve management of associated complications within the framework of improving safe motherhood generally, contribute to abandonment efforts through ensuring that staff adhere to MOH policy, and become involved in community-level discussions to create a climate for behavior change.






A Research Agenda to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in a Generation; Frontiers in Reproductive Health