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Hilary Burrage's website comprises mostly her sociological papers and articles about patriarchy, (gendered) harmful practices and, specifically, female genital mutilation / FGM.

To select particular topics in any area please go to the Word Cloud below on your right.
(Or just scroll down here for recent posts....)

Hilary is the author of two books on her chosen themes:

15.07.14 FGM Book1 jacket jpegEradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Ashgate/Routledge, 2015) is a book about pathways to eradicating FGM in the UK and around the world, and a detailed handbook-textbook which covers global and historic/political issues from a socio-economic as well as educational, legal and medical aspects.
There is an accompanying website for updates and a Twitter account [book available from the publisher; or from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com (inc. e-format) and high street booksellers].

16.01.22 Female Mutilation book pic (3)Female Mutilation: The truth behind the horrifying global practice of female genital mutilation (New Holland Publishers, 2016) comprises 70+ ‘narratives’ from survivors, family and community members, activists and professionals in two dozen countries, five continents, also with an accompanying website to bring all the contributors together, and a Twitter handle [book available from the Guardian bookshop; or from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com, or high street booksellers].

Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation was launched on 4 November 2015 at The Guardian offices in London (introductory talk here) and both books were presented at a reception hosted by the Norwegian Embassy for the Inter-African Committee FGM Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, on 10 May 2016.

REVIEWS of ERADICATING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION:
>Hilary Burrage has written the most definitive book ever on FGM. An invaluable tool to help eradicate it worldwide. A personal triumph. (The Guardian)
> Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation provides an insightful and thorough discussion of the problems facing women in the UK who have encountered female genital mutilation (FGM), and is an excellent book. The book is divided into 12 chapters covering demography, perceptions and beliefs, power, clinical issues including mandatory reporting, legislation and governance, prevention and politics. The book is fully referenced throughout. … . This is a book that makes one consider the issues surrounding FGM and the challenges facing health professionals. [It] is an interesting and very readable book, which provides background and insight, and which would be suitable for anyone interested in this topic, health professionals working within sexual health, and anyone involved in teaching this topical and emotive subject. (Su Everett, BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health)
>… Outraged at ineffective child protection, Burrage provides a comprehensive, scholarly yet accessible guide – the first ethically correct textbook in the world about FGM and among the best ever – to professionals and all people of conscience. (Tobe Levin von Gleichen, Harvard and Oxford Universities)
>…. The book provides many references, a website to work with on enhancing the reader’s knowledge, and a list of organisations working on this issue… [and] provides social workers, as well as social policy makers, researchers and activists, with a wide comparative canvass, facts, and an honest discussion of the likelihood of eradication of FGM in the near future, demonstrating the author’s understanding and analysis of the considerable obstacles needed to be confronted, if we are to achieve this very necessary objective. (Shulamit Ramon, International Federation of Social Workers)
>The best book ever written about the sensitive subject of FGM : Amazon.com ***** (Sayydah Garrett, Pastoralist Child Foundation
>Essential insights on female genital mutilation … Sociologist Hilary Burrage’s intention is “to start a wider conversation about FGM and the challenges it produces” and in this book she succeeds admirably… FGM is a “deeply disturbing form of child abuse” with detrimental life-changing consequences that need to be tackled in a manner that is as vigorous as it is cognisant of its social and cultural complexity. Burrage, who adheres to a feminist understanding of FGM, proposes a no-nonsense 15-point plan that ranges from closing existing legal loopholes to mandatory reporting of cases, from tackling terminology to remedying the present haphazard child-protection provision… Engagingly written and packed with information, this book is a must-read. (Michal Boncza, Morning Star)
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REVIEWS of FEMALE MUTILATION: The truth behind the horrifying global practice of female genital mutilation:
> This is the essential companion volume to Hilary Burrage's 'Eradicating Female Mutilation'. While the latter provides a broad and deep perspective on the practice of FGM, this book gives space for the voices of victims and practitioners in the field. The author is to be commended for bringing together such a wide range of personal narratives... to consign a vile abuse of women to the dustbin of history. You will not fail to be engaged... by these accounts, even though some are harrowing. "Female Mutilation' is a landmark contribution to the literature on FGM.: Amazon ***** (Ron Stewart and another reader)

Hilary Burrage is also the author of many other papers, policy submissions, posts, reviews and chapters on FGM, including a Chapter on ‘Female Genital Mutilation and Genital Surgeries’ in the Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health, edited by Jane M. Ussher, Joan C. Chrisler and Janette Perz (published October 2019)

Hilary is a consultant sociologist and writer (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6684-2740). This is her professional website, to share thoughts on sociological analysis, social policy and good practice, especially in relation to female genital mutilation (FGM), child abuse, gendered violence and patriarchy. Hilary lives in London.

Epidemiology And Community Health: A Strained Connection?

July 2, 2019

The (dis?)connections between epidemiology as a field of enquiry, and the practice of community health in everyday reality, have interested me throughout my academic life.
How do the findings of research into health, illness and socio-economic context translate into public policy and work on the ground to improve people’s fitness and well-being? Or don’t they? – a question I asked in my previous post: End Female Genital Mutilation  Programmes: Research And Evaluation

I was reminded of this much earlier paper (below; originally published in Social Science and Medicine – download full text here ) just today because I saw it had recently been cited by some others who also ponder these questions. Perhaps we collectively still have work to do?

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End Female Genital Mutilation Programmes: Research And Evaluation

May 25, 2019

The UK Government National Audit Office recently invited submissions around their examination of the effectiveness of official development assistance.  Evaluation is an aspect of work on programmes to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) which has interested me as a sociologist for quite a while.  I therefore suggested some research questions which may be of interest to them or DfID.  National and international support for work to EndFGM is essential and it is critical that we continue to learn which aspects of these programmes are likely to have most positive impact.

There is a growing realisation that to achieve maximum impact, programmes of FGM eradication must be underpinned by a cogent discipline and understanding of what FGM is and how it maintains its legitimacy in the eyes of those who practise it: parallels here might be the studies of substance abuse or premature / teenage pregnancy.  FGM as an academic field is only now beginning to take shape (for instance, from the work at Oxford, Northwestern and other universities – please add other / your own FGM Studies courses in the Comments below). A critical part of the developing FGM Studies paradigm/s will be the development of even more effective research ‘toolkits’ to evaluate programmes of eradication at the local level, building on the pioneering global evaluations of EndFGM programmes by the UNFPA-UNICEF to establish FGM Studies as an academic discipline in its own right.

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Female Genital Mutilation And Gender Politics In Modern Egypt

February 11, 2019

In 2018 I wrote a review of three books on Egyptian gender politics for the journal Left History.  This essay has just now been published in Vol. 22, No. 1 (2018).  In my review I seek to understand the rationales by which female genital mutilation (FGM) continues in Egypt in a context where it seems both that many men strive to maintain patriarchy and also to demonstrate their nurturing intent, and that women try to reconcile their ‘modern’ and traditional roles. I am also critical in that field researchers did not challenge post-interview some respondents’ beliefs that FGM is necessary and harmless.

Maria Frederika Malmstrὅm The Politics of Female Circumcision in Egypt: Gender, Sexuality and the Construction of Identity (2016) I.B. Tauris, London and New York : 244 pp

Heidi Morrison Childhood and Colonial Modernity in Egypt (2015) Palgrave Macmillan, London and New York : 176 pp

Nefissa Naguib Nurturing Masculinities: Men, Food and Family in Contemporary Egypt (2015) University of Texas Press, Austin TX : 144 pp

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Westminster FGM Event: ‘Cutting Season’ Film, FGM In Canada Petition, Role Of UK GPs And National FGM Centre Funding

February 10, 2019

I was pleased to collaborate with Sarah Champion MP and her team on the event Sarah held in the House of Commons on 7 February 2019. A packed Jubilee Room audience saw the BBC version of Canadian film-maker Giselle Portenier’s documentary on FGM safe houses in Tanzania, followed by a lively Q and A. The panelists were Dr Phoebe Abe-Okwonga, Leethen Bartholomew, Cllr Anita Lower and me. Topics addressed included the need for Canada to take FGM seriously, how GPs in the UK can be supported to provide care for FGM survivors and potential victims, and funding for the UK National FGM Centre,

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Progress Towards Tackling FGM In The UK Is Severely Compromised By Brexit

February 6, 2019

Today (6 February) is the annual Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a day when people around the world declare once again their commitment to stopping this cruel traditional practice. The UK has been amongst those leading the way in FGM eradication, but sadly there is almost no aspect of British life on which Brexit – leaving the European Union – would not impinge.
This post, written for the Analysis pages of The UK in a Changing World website, examines some serious difficulties which may arise for UK-led work to end FGM, if Brexit goes forward.

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6 February: ‘Zero Tolerance Of FGM’ Day In Britain And World-Wide.

February 6, 2019

On 6 February 2003 the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, made the official declaration of Zero Tolerance for FGM during an event by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC). That date is now marked annually as we renew our determination to make FGM history;  and much has indeed been achieved – many of us know far more about FGM now than then – but in the UK as much as anywhere there remains a great deal to be done before we can start to hope our task is accomplished. These are some thoughts about progress in Britain which I wrote for the Morning Star today:

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What Can I Do To Stop FGM?… Some Practical Suggestions For Activists In The U.K.

January 30, 2019

I’ve been asked to make a short presentation at the Symposium to End FGM in Britain held at 55 Tufton Street, London on 31 January 2019.  My allocated task is to present some practical suggestions about how activists can take things forward; and I have interpreted this in a general way, rather than as a clinician, lawyer or someone in any other specific position.

These are my first thoughts, seeking to find something for everyone who would like to join us in making FGM very firmly history.

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#EndFGM Campaigners And Intactivists Against Male Circumcision (MGM) Have Many Concerns In Common

November 11, 2018

Activists against female genital mutilation often insist FGM must not be called ‘female circumcision’; and it’s not, in formal dialogue, ‘cutting’, either. I agree with them. As the WHO, UNFPA, IAC, the Bamako Declaration and others such as the authors (me included) of the Statement on FGM insist, FGM is quite simply ‘Mutilation’.
But the idea that FGM is ‘worse’ than ‘male circumcision’ (MGM) is not very helpful.  There is no need for competition as we seek to prevent harm to either gender.  FGM and MGM are both issues of child protection and human rights. Mutual support and collaboration will take us further, more quickly.

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Brexit, Youth And Media: Decelerating The Movement To End FGM?

October 19, 2018

18.10.19 Oxford FGM event (6)Friday 19 October 2018 saw us at another Oxford University International Gender Studies Centre / UnCUT/VOICES Press event considering approaches to eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM), this time with a focus on media and youth.  One theme arising throughout the day was the need for greater evaluation of different ways to attempt eradication, but my contribution was more specific: I asked what is known about the impact which Brexit (the UK leaving the European Union) would have – if it happens – on work to end FGM?

I have been researching this question – to which I shall return here again when my enquiries are complete – for a while, but one illuminating response arrived in my Inbox just as I was travelling to Kellogg College in Oxford. It was this, from Julie Ward MEP, that we discussed in my session.

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Bullet Hole: A Play About What Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] Can Do To Your Mind

October 12, 2018

Art and performance are powerful ways to convey messages on difficult topics.  Bullet Hole, a play by Gloria Williams about the circumstances in which three different London-based women who have had FGM find themselves, is a welcome addition to this genre. The play leaves no-one in any doubt that FGM has long-lasting and cruel outcomes, both physically and psychologically; but the message is also that with support women can move on.  The question is, how often is such support available? And what are we doing anyway, to stop FGM?

Bullet Hole, presented by Naiad Productions, is showing from 2 – 27 October 2018, at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London.  The director is Lara Genovese, and the cast are Gloria Williams, Doreene Blackstock  and Anni Domingo.

After the performance on Wednesday 10 October a number of us joined the audience for a panel discussion:

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In The Name Of Your Daughter (An #EndFGM Film About Safe Houses)

October 6, 2018

The Raindance Film Festival is an important event in the London arts diary.  Yesterday (5 October 2018) we saw one of this year’s featured films: In The Name Of Your Daughter, a documentary about saving young girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) via a ‘safe house’, a place to which likely victims of this crime can flee, or are taken, for protection during the ‘cutting season’. Especially important here is how trust and understanding about FGM must be established to rebuild connection between these girls and their families and communities. Be sure to see it.

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Kameel Ahmady: His Book ‘In the Name of Tradition’

August 18, 2018

My friend and colleague Kameel Ahmady, the British-Iranian social anthropologist and #EndFGM / #EndChildMarriage scholar, has been detained in Tehran.  His wife, Shafagh Rahmani, says he is held in Evin Prison on unknown potential ‘national security’ charges.
[January 2021: Kameel has now escaped to London.]  This may be a good time to draw attention to Kameel’s first book in English, In the Name of Tradition, which reports on his research on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iran.

The book was published by UnCUT/VOICES, a specialist #EndFGM publishing house owned by another very good friend, Tobe Levin.  She and I edited it and were so impressed by the work that we added a jointly written Afterword.  Here it is:

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The Many ‘E’s Of FGM Eradication – And Why They All Lead Via ‘Economics’ And ‘Epidemics’ To Public Health

April 24, 2018

I was pleased to be invited to speak at the second University of Salford ONECPD Conference on Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.  I originally intended my presentation to be on The 4Es of Eradication but further events and consideration suggest there are at least 7 Es….  and that they all point the same way:  The largely missing element in current eradication strategies is Public Health.
In this post I explain why I see that discipline or framework as critically important if we are to eradicate FGM forever.

The fundamental question for those who seek FGM eradication is not, ‘How long will it take?’, but rather, ‘What resources and leadership are required, finally to make FGM history?’

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Female Genital Mutilation Destroys Lives And Communities

April 6, 2018

The University of Salford is where, in 1973, I gained my M.Sc. degree in the Sociology of Science and Technology. I was therefore pleased to be asked to return at last, this time as a speaker at a ONECPD Conference on Tuesday 24 April 2018, on Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).   The topic I will address is The 4 Es of FGM Eradication – Engagement, Education, Enforcement and Economics.
I was also invited to write a blog on our Zero Tolerance for FGM theme for the ONECPD website. Here it is:
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Female Genital Mutilation: Money – Inadequate Funding, Vested Interests, MDG and GDP

March 9, 2018

Friday 8 March 2018 saw another EndFGM seminar led by Dr Tobe Levin and hosted by Dr Maria Jaschok of the International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. The event was attended by academics (two from the USA), doctors, lawyers and activists. I contributed by leading an interactive session on the many economic aspects – still so often overlooked – of female genital mutilation and its eradication. My briefing paper (drawing on the event concept note Tobe Levin had prepared) follows below, with a visual record of our discussions:

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Dare2Care – A New Website About Child Protection By Sarah Champion MP

February 27, 2018

It was an indication of their commitment that, despite the snow storms, dozens of activists joined Sarah Champion MP in her Westminster office for the launch today (Tuesday 27 February) of  Dare2Care, an online resource which focuses on the prevention of child abuse in the UK.
Sarah is the MP for Rotherham, a constituency which has seen multiple and very severe instances of grooming and other child abuse. Learning about these crimes must surely have been one of the reasons why she is so determined to help stop harm to children.

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Economics Is Why FGM Persists (Oxford Seminar On The Elephants In The Room)

November 23, 2017

17 November 2017: A workshop entitled Elephants in the Room: Hurdles – and Hope – for Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) challenged us to consider some ‘elephants in the room’ in how we think about that particular form of gendered physical and psychological abuse.  The event, co-sponsored by the International Gender Studies Centre at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, and the UnCUT/VOICES Press, enabled those present to share thoughts on aspects of FGM which may be both blatantly obvious and difficult to discuss. My contribution, summarised below, was on the Economics of FGM.

The ‘four Es’ of Eradicating FGM are Engagement, Education, Enforcement and Economics.

But perhaps there is also a fifth ‘E’ – because in the context of this seminar Economics is the Elephant in the room….

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Three Days With Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, Washington DC, October 2017: Walk-A-Thon to #EndFGM

October 22, 2017

What an experience this visit to Washington DC turned out to be! Angela Peabody, the Founder-Director of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, made us all so warmly welcome as we met again friends and colleagues from different parts of the world, and discussed various issues with some of the leading medical and legal female genital mutilation (FGM) experts in the USA. And we saw the 2017 GWPF nominees receive their awards for outstanding service to end that cruel and harmful traditional practice.

My (post-event) thoughts on what we discussed follow, with a focus on

*Medical ‘vs’ legal understandings
*Male ‘vs’ female circumcision (MGM and FGM) and human rights / bodily integrity
*Patriarchy incarnate, eg FGM and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM)
*Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
*Data on FGM prevalence
*Surgical and other treatment and support for FGM survivors
*’Market segmentation’ to maximise the impact of #EndFGM programmes.

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Letter To The Guardian On FGM And Girls’ Education

October 7, 2017

I was pleased to have a letter published today in the main Guardian, and yesterday in Society Guardian, in response to an article of 4 October.
The original piece, supported by Opportunity International UK and entitled ‘Educating girls: the key to tackling poverty‘, was a report on a Guardian Roundtable discussion which considered several obstacles to girls’ education including taboos around menstruation and child marriage, but did not mention FGM.
Here is what I wrote:

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Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation Awardees 2015-2017

September 1, 2017

The 2017 Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) Walk-A-Thon to End FGM is in Washington DC on Saturday 21 October.  (Register here.) In 2016 I was thrilled to be made an GWPF Awardee, and in 2017 perhaps more delighted still by an invitation to join the newly established on-going GWPF Awards Committee.  It was incredibly difficult to select our nominations in each of the awarding categories, but listed below are those eventually named for 2017, along with the names of 2015 and 2016 Awardees.

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