Mapping the complexities and highlighting the dangers: the global drive to end FGM in the UK and Sudan

Tamsin Bradley, Nafisa Bedri

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This article maps out the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) global push to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). In particular it looks at how the various components aim to link together filling evidence gaps and seeking to identify what works to finally end this brutal practice. Throughout the article we voice a caution that if the numerous programmes emerging are not shaped by grassroots experiences of FGM, and specifically by local change agents, there is real danger that this opportunity will fail. In highlighting this danger we present the viewpoint of community groups and local activists in the UK and also Sudan. We place these voices within the complex web of interventions that comprise the Free Sudan from FGM/C programme. If not sufficiently coordinated and responsive to communities it simply will not work. To emphasise this caution we draw on a variety of theories that help us understand how discourses around FGM have emerged and intertwine. We also draw on theory to highlight an over reliance on a constructed image of a suffering FGM victim which makes it difficult for local activists to be heard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-37
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Development Studies
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2017
Publication statusEarly online - 1 Jan 2017


  • female genital mutlilation
  • gender
  • human rights
  • Sudan
  • violence
  • culture
  • medicalisation


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