What eyes cannot see: FGM as an area of concern for Portuguese society

Marlene Coelho

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The origins of female genital mutilation (FGM) are vague. This practice is carried out on girls and women of all ages and is typically linked to cultural traditions mainly in some African countries, where it remains a usual practice. Despite attempts by governments and non-governmental organisations to stop this procedure, they have not been totally successful. The reasons behind the practice include honour, control over sexuality, purity, rite of passage, tradition and aesthetics, but also social acceptance, marriage and hygiene. In the era of globalisation the process of migration has intensified, creating new challenges for host countries. Along with their culture, migrants transport their traditions to the West. Some understand them as going against basic human rights; however, immigrants may perceive them as cultural belonging, which reinforces their identity far away from their home country, enforcing a sense of belonging to a Diaspora. This procedure may be prevalent among immigrants coming from some African countries, some of which derive from Muslim communities. As the Bissau-Guinean community living in Portugal is the most representative of this practice, it has been chosen as a case study for this master thesis. Although Portugal has a legal framework condemning the procedure of FGM and the government promotes intersectorial cooperation among the different sections of Portuguese society, cases about the procedure being performed among African immigrants living in Portugal are still being reported. This master thesis deals with the role of FGM among the immigrants from Guinea-Bissau living in Portugal. This research analyses FGM among Bissau-Guinean immigrants, first, by conceptualising and discussing concepts such as Diaspora and migration, gender and social/medical approaches and governance and law; and then, by contextualising Guinea-Bissau and Portugal in order to provide enough information to answer to research questions and the problem statement. Finally, there is an attempt to perceive what the tradition represents to the community and what should be done to eliminate the practice.

UddannelserGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 jan. 2014
VejledereBodil Folke Frederiksen


  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Law
  • Tradition
  • Health
  • Migration
  • Diaspora
  • Identity
  • FGM
  • Portugal