New doctorate on attitudes to female circumcision
Abdi Ali Gele defended Friday 20 December his doctorate with the title: “Female Circumsion that home and away: Attitudes toward the practice Among Somali Immigrants in Oslo, Norway and Their Corresponding group in Hargeisa and Galka’ayo, Somalia.
Written by: Helen Ghebremedhin and Warsame Ali
Gel has his doctorate performed a qualitative and quantitative survey among Somalis in Hargeisa towns and Galka’ayo in Somalia and among Somalis living in Oslo.
70% of the Somali respondents in Oslo were against female genital mutilation (CLL). Interviews with Somali parents in Oslo suggests that parents have changed their attitude towards this practice after they settled in Norway.
Unlike results from the survey in Oslo showed results from Somalia that 90% of respondents were supporters of CLL. Results from these surveys in Somalia show that campaigns in Somalia to prohibit FGM has failed and there is now a need for alternative approaches to this problem.
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Interview with Abdi Ali Gele
What was your motivation to perform this study? What results surprised you the most?
Thanks! Female genital mutilation has been an important topic in public debates in Norway and internationally. Although there has been some qualitative data available so it has not been explored about Somalis in Norway has changed his views on CLL, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. This is a topic that is very political and are often used as an argument against immigration in public debates. This has created a discussion about the necessity for empirical research on the topic. Several colleagues and experts have advised me to design a project that explores CLL situation among Somalis in Norway (when they see me as the right person for the job) and I did with pleasure.
You wrote in your thesis that religion was an important factor for those who support the continuation of CLL in Oslo. Was the same in Somalia? And what religion they use to justify this practice?
Yes, religion was the only reason that was used as justification for the continuation of this practice. As you probably know, the practice is divided into Sunna and Pharaonic circumcision. Sunna is seen as mild and methodology without injury. Sunna are also seen as required, which is actually not the case.
Does the current campaigns and action in Norway?
Regarding the current strategy so I think that it works well in changing attitudes and has decreased prevalence among women. Nevertheless, migration is a process and people with a positive attitude to the practice comes to Norway every day. We recommended that all measures against CLL continues to practice is completely abolished. Simultaneously measures must be adapted so that it reduces stigma against those who are already victims of the practice so it does not become a double stigma against group.
You mentioned that the campaigns in Somalia was not effective. What do you think are necessary to change it?
The strategy that has been used in Somalia over the past 30 years have failed to reduce the prevalence of CLL and attitudes towards it. Hence the need for an alternative strategy adapted to the social context and counteracting factors that sustain the practice in Somalia. We must know that what works in Senegal does not work in Somalia, and that any intervention aimed Somalis must be ethnic custom.
How can your findings help to improve the situation?
For that the findings should be converted into practice, we need to be more visible in debates and discussions, both nationally and internationally. We must also work hard to convey findings so it is not just a document that will remain at the library.
And finally, what’s next for Abdi Gele?
The future is bright and there are several possibilities. I try to continue with research in Norway or elsewhere. If I get a space beside, on NAKMI, I take it.
NAKMI Director Bernadette Kumar has also spoken about Geles doctoral work:
“Abdi Ali Geles scientific contributions to the field of migration and health is unique and outstanding. The findings in this paper is very relevant for researchers, health professionals and authorities in the Nordic and other Western countries. Geles work is based on votes from the Somali community in Norway and Somalia and it is important that research in this field prioritizes user perspective as it Gele has done. ”
NAKMI congratulates Abdi Ali Gel with well over with disputation!