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Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation: An Exploratory Study of the Psychological Health Outcomes in Tanzania

Queen, Courtney (2016) Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation: An Exploratory Study of the Psychological Health Outcomes in Tanzania. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation (FGC/M) is a practice that involves the partial or total removal of various portions of the external female genitalia for non-medically necessary reasons. This tradition has been passed through generations and is still very much present today. While the practice is adhered to for the social and cultural benefits it engenders, many negative outcomes have been associated with the practice. The harmful physical and sexual outcomes of FGC/M have been examined; however, very little research has focused on the psychological impact of FGC/M.

The purpose of this study was to narrow the gap in the research by examining the mental health and emotional outcomes of FGC/M among women in the East African country of Tanzania. Tanzania is home to the Maasai, a tribe with strong historical and cultural roots who have held on to many tribal practices over the years, including FGC/M. I used a qualitative methodological approach which included in-depth, semi-structured interviews with women from the Maasai tribe who have undergone FGC/M. Given that mental health is not a developed field in Tanzania, this study sought to elicit participants’ feelings toward the practice of FGC/M including how the procedure made them feel emotionally both at the time it occurred and today.
During the interviews Maasai women described their personal experiences with and feelings toward FGC/M. Their responses were categorized in the following ways: 1) their view of the logic behind why FGC/M is practiced; 2) psychological health outcomes; 3) women’s general opinions and attitudes about FGC/M; and 4) women’s personal journey and experience with FGC/M.

This study suggests that while FGC/M provides symbolic importance for Maasai women. They associate the procedure with pain, fear and shock at the time of undergoing FGC/M. FGC/M marks a significant turning-point in a young girls’ life that includes both positive and negative outcomes. Many women wanted this practice to end because of their own negative consequences; however, they still had plans to continue this among their own daughters and granddaughters. This indicates that this practice, however traumatic it may seem, is attached to the strength and pride of what it means to be a Maasai woman. These findings provide the impetus for a number of social work practice, policy, and research implications to follow.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Queen, Courtneyccq2@pitt.eduCCQ20000-0001-6430-2663
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNewhill,
Committee MemberPetracchi,
Committee MemberFusco,
Committee MemberLarkins-Pettigrew,
Date: 23 August 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 May 2016
Approval Date: 23 August 2016
Submission Date: 22 August 2016
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 174
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Maasai, Tanzania, Female Genital Cutting, Female Genital Mutilation, mental health
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 13:02
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2021 05:15


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