Female Genital Cutting in Industrialized Countries
Mutilation or Cultural Tradition?
by Mary Nyangweso
October 2014, 251pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3346-5
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3347-2
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FGM is on the rise in industrialized countries such as the United States.

This book comprehensively examines the practice of female genital mutilation and proposes new intervention programs and community-based initiatives that protect the rights of children and women who live with the serious risks and long-term consequences of the practice.

Why is FGM on the increase in industrialized countries in spite of existing policies against the practice? How is political correctness contributing to this increase? And how does religion contribute implicitly or explicitly to the persistence of FGM? This work is authored by a Kenyan immigrant to the United States who recognizes the necessity of better protection of women’s rights regarding FGM in first-world nations and the need for these countries to recognize this issue as a serious challenge to values and health services.

The book provides complete information about the practice of female genital cutting, explaining its origin, identifying the countries where this practice is common, and documenting the rise of FGM in industrialized nations. The second half of the book examines existing intervention programs with the goal of improving the situation by way of transforming policies, addressing the legal aspects of the issue, and improving health care services. A powerful resource for college and university level students in the humanities, social science, and medical fields, this book will also serve general readers with interest in examining challenges women grapple with internationally.


  • Provides complete coverage of the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), the origin of the practice, the countries of prevalence, and the current rise of the practice in industrialized countries
  • Addresses a controversial issue that encompasses various scholarly disciplines such as religious studies, gender studies, anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, international studies, and medicine, among others
  • Explains why FGM needs to be a subject that professional medical doctors are educated on in order to provide special health care services to help serve the individuals within this significant community
Mary Nyangweso, PhD, is associate professor of religion and Peel Distinguished Chair of Religious Studies at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Her published works include Female Circumcision: The Interplay of Religion, Culture, and Gender in Kenya. She has also published articles in peer review journals and book chapters in a number of books in the area of gender. Nyangweso holds a doctorate in sociology of religion from Drew University.


"Recommended. Specialists."—Choice, April 1, 2015

"Mary Nyangweso beams a searchlight on the female genital cutting practice in the industrialized societies of the west with significant results of how the practice is affecting their immigrant communities. The book provides robust debates on how this tenacious cultural practice challenges religious, ethical, civic, and human rights conditions in the immigrants' host countries. It portrays how local practices and global ethical demands clash. The solutions Nyangweso suggests will be useful for formulating social policies and necessary intervention for resolving this crisis in the modern West."—Jacob K. Olupona, Professor at Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Divinity School

"The issues that this book skillfully analyzes could not be more pressing or culturally and politically sensitive. They inhabit the complicated intersection of concern for immigrant rights, the health and safety of young girls, religious freedom, and women’s sexual autonomy. Nyangweso offers a persuasive and unflinchingly vivid argument for breaking the silence about female genital cutting in the United States and the need for more effective strategies to decrease it."—Traci C. West, Author of Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter

"With impressive breadth and depth, Mary Nyangweso has assembled a range of complex sociological, religious, political, legal, and medical perspectives that bear on this practice as it is lived within diaspora communities. Enhancing this overview are cutting-edge examples of individuals and communities that are making concrete progress to end or limit the adverse effects of this practice on girls’ and women’s health. Her recommendations provide food for thought for those who hope to drive through the polarities of an intensely divisive debate, while simultaneously acknowledging both the integrity of cultures and responsibilities to respect human rights."—Susan C. Pearce, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
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