The mothering experience of women with female genital cutting raising “uncut” daughters, in Africa and in the West

Koukoui, S.; Hassan, G.; Guzder, J. (2017)

Reproductive Health

14(1) | 51


While Female Genital Cutting (FGM/C) is a deeply entrenched cultural practice, there is now mounting evidence for a gradual decline in prevalence in a number of geographical areas in Africa and following migration to non-practicing countries. Consequently, there is now a growing number of women with FGM/C who are raising ‘uncut’ daughters. This study used a qualitative methodology to investigate the experience of women with FGM/C raising daughters who have not been subjected to the ritual. The aim of this study was to shed light on mothers’ perception of the meaning and cultural significance of the practice and to gain insight into their mothering experience of ‘uncut’ girls.


To this end, in-depth interviews were conducted with fifteen mothers living in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and in Montreal, Canada (8 and 7, respectively).


Thirteen mothers intrinsically refused to perpetuate FGM/C onto their daughters and two diasporic mothers were in favour of FGM/C but forewent the practice for fear of legal repercussions. Whether the eschewing of FGM/C was deliberate or legally imposed, raising ‘uncut’ daughters had significant consequences in terms of women’s mothering experiences. Mothers faced specific challenges pertaining to community and family pressure to have daughters undergo FGM/C, and expressed concerns regarding their daughters’ sexuality. Conversely, women’s narratives were also infused with pride and hope for their daughters, and revealed an accrued dialogue between the mother-daughter dyad about cultural norms and sexuality. Interestingly, women’s mothering experience was also bolstered by the existence of informal networks of support between mothers with FGM/C whose daughters were ‘uncut’. These communities of mothers engaged in open dialogue about the consequences of FGM/C and offered reciprocal solidarity and support in their decision to forego FGM/C for their children.


Women with FGM/C who are raising ‘uncut’ daughters in their homeland and in their country of immigration vastly report a positive experience. However, they also face specific challenges related to immigration, psychosocial, and psychosexual considerations, which must be tackled from a multidisciplinary perspective