Date of Conferral
Cheryl C. Anderson
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a public health challenge because it jeopardizes the health of women and girls. FGM is condemned worldwide but, it is still practiced in the Odi community of Nigeria. The literature on women's lived experiences of FGM in other parts of the world was reviewed, but knowledge is lacking on the lived experiences of women from Odi community in Nigeria. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore their lived experiences, their perspectives on the current legislation for the prevention of FGM, and their perspectives on the cultural myths surrounding the practice. The phenomenological lens was used both as the study design and as the theoretical framework which states that humans know the world through their experiences. This theory guided the study on how the women of Odi community attached meaning to their experiences with FGM. Nine women, 18 and older, who had experienced FGM, were recruited through a snowball technique. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth, face-to-face interviews. Colaizzi's method was used for data analysis. Five major themes emerged: (a) FGM is a traditional rite, (b) challenges of FGM, (c) FGM cultural myth instills fear, (d) ignorance of legislation against FGM, and (e) needs government intervention to halt FGM. Participants recommended the enforcement of the legislation against FGM. The findings of this study will be communicated to stakeholders of FGM in the Odi community and in public health journals to serve as a basis for further research. The implication for social change is that maternal and child health will be improved.