The “three planet problem” of female genital cutting (FGC) protection: Contradictions in professional approaches to protecting FGC-affected migrant women and girls at risk’.

This seminar is chaired by Neil Quinn, Reader, School of Social Work and Social Policy, and  Co-Director of the Centre for Health Policy, at the University of Strathclyde. In this seminar, Emmaleena Käkelä will present her doctoral research . 


In the last two decades, the issue of female genital cutting (FGC) has become subject to considerable public and policy attention. As a result of the global instabilities, “migration crisis” and rising inter-cultural tensions in Western societies, FGC and other gendered cultural practices have been increasingly harnessed in the defence of anti-immigration sentiments and the growing opposition to multiculturalism. Furthermore, the failure to secure a successful FGC prosecution in Britain until 2019 has been accompanied by long-standing critique against statutory service complacency and inaction to protect girls from FGC.

This presentation problematises these trends by arguing that the collision of anti-FGC and anti-immigration discourses underpins statutory service failures to recognise FGC-affected women’s and their children’s simultaneous needs for protection. In drawing from participatory doctoral research which has engaged with key informants and FGC-affected women, I illustrate the insensitive and hypervigilant responses that immigration control and statutory services adopt in responding to the threat of FGC facing women and their daughters. I adapt Marianne Hester’s (2011) “Three Planet Model” to conceptualise how fragmentated professional discourses and approaches confront FGC-affected women with impossible choices about how they should act to ensure safety for themselves and their daughters. The findings illustrate how dominant representations of FGC and FGC-affected women, the intersectional erasures in service provision and disregard towards the lived experiences of displacement perpetuate ongoing trauma in the lives of FGC-affected women and constrain women’s agency to protect their daughters from FGC.

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