Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Garth Woodbury


Female circumcision (FC) is the partial or total removal of the female genitalia for nonmedical reasons. This study was designed to examine the lived experiences of Somali women who underwent FC before coming to the United States. FC is widely carried out in Somalia with a prevalence of 98%, making Somalia the country with the highest percentage of circumcised women. There are short- and long-term consequences associated with FC such as bleeding, infection, and death. Therefore, it is important to understand how Somali women who underwent FC think and feel about circumcision, why they would continue the practice, and whether they would recommend the practice for others. Using a qualitative research method with a phenomenological approach aligned with the use of social convention theory as a conceptual framework, data were collected from 12 Somali women who underwent FC, who were living in the United States at the time of the study, who were 18 years old and above and who were recruited online through SurveyMonkey without disclosing their identities. Thirty-five open-ended questions were posted online for participants to complete. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis method was used for data analysis. The respondents reported experiencing negative consequences from FC practice including pain, miscarriages, and heavy bleeding. The majority of the women in the study supported the eradication of FC in all forms. Based on the findings of this study, possible implications for positive social change include enabling health professionals to create culturally-diverse education and care and altering the social convention of FC so that the morbidity and mortality caused by FC is reduced and the lives of girls and women in Somalia are improved.