Prisoners of Ritual; An Odyssey into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa

Prisoners of Ritual; An Odyssey into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa

Paperback(New Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions


This unique volume focuses on the psychosexual and social effects of female genital mutilation, an ancient, deeply entrenched custom saturating the larger part of Africa. Over a period of six years, Author Hanny Lightfoot-Klein trekked through outlying areas of Sudan, Kenya, and Egypt, where she lived with a number of African families. What she learned by way of in-depth personal interviews and firsthand observation has enabled her to add a previously unknown and often astonishing dimension to our knowledge of ritual practices and human sexuality. This valuable book will be extremely helpful to professionals and scholars in women's studies, social psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry, gynecology, sexology, as well as cross-cultural and African studies. It should also interest anyone who is concerned with male circumcision in the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780918393685
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 09/28/1989
Series: Haworth Women's Studies Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 318
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Contents Preface
  • Part I.
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Interviews: Procedure and Rationale
  • 2. Female Circumcision in African Countries in General, and Sudan in Particular
  • 3. Sudan: The Current Situation
  • 4. Episodes and Conversations 5. Voices of Reason
  • 6. A History of Clitoral Excision and Infibulation Practices in the Western World
  • 7. Male Circumcision
  • 8. Overview
  • Part II
  • 9. Images
  • 10. A Sudanese Odyssey
  • Appendix I
  • Interviews With Women
  • Appendix II
  • Interviews With Men
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Prisoners of Ritual; An Odyssey into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wanted to write a review of this book, first because its a subject close to me personally and professionally and secondly I get many great e-mails from people who have seen other books on sensitive topics I have reviewed and then they check and see what other books I have read, so I am hoping they read this one as well. Have had the book since 1989, and became interested in the whole issue of FGM or female genital mutilation because of my Peace Corps work and reproductive health work with third world women and here in California with migrant workers. I also recommend Alice Walkers book on the subject as well. As the author points out and health workers discover first hand when visiting the countries mentioned this procedure began centuries ago, thousands of years. Herodotus the famous historian reported of FGM in Egypt in the 5th century BC and he believed the ritual began in Ethiopia or Egypt. And the Greek papyrus in the British Museum notes it was dated to 163 BC As the author correctly notes the Sudan is Africa largest country. I was happy to see she didn't overlook writing about the Kikuyu the largest group in Kenya who do practice excision since I am familiar with them. As well as the regions of Tanzania Senegal Nigeria where the Ibo Hausa and Yoruba the main three ethnic groups all excise their women. Most populations in Senegal also do excision while Infibulation occurs in the horn of Africa and the lowlands of Ethiopia Djibouti, Somalia and Mali. The FGM methods the author deals with are Mild Sunna where there pricking slitting or removal of the prepuce of the clitoris is done. Modified Sunna where the partial or total excision of the body of the clitoris is done Clitoridectomy/excision or the removal of the part or all of the clitoris as well as the labia minora is done to the extend that it occludes the vaginal opening. Infibulation/pharonic circumcision is where the clitoris is totally removed as well as the labia minora and the inner layers of the labia majora. The raw edges are then sewn together with a small piece of wood or straw inserted to prevent complete occlusion. There is barely enough room for urine or blood flow and in fact many women do not have menses that flow outward but the blood backs up into the internal pelvis area. Thus any suggestion that testing cervical mucus i.e.ferning is nonsensical.The book is over 300 pages long and the author does an excellent job of explaining in great detail where and why this is done. How and why it is still done and how international health and human rights organizations are trying to stem its practice. The author also deals with the issue of male circumcision and its origins and where and why it is still done. And she notes that FGM and male infant circumcisions have some distinct and important differences. First being that male infants are usually done by a Mohel or physicians whereas female are much older and the procedures are crude and done in ways that have nothing to do with hygine issues but to prevent the female from ever experiencing sexual pleasure of any kind. It is done to punish the female and to control her.