Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and the Communicative Interface Between Non-Government Organizations and the State/Policy in Egypt
Global efforts to end female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) have intensified in recent decades because of the rising awareness that such a practice is an act of violence against women and girls. Numerous research articles on FGM/C have been published; however, they mostly focus on the prevalence, the medical consequences and its management. On the other hand, the field of communication which is vital in understanding and combating FGM/C has been largely overlooked or ignored. Egypt being one of the three countries, hosting more than 100 million women and girls who have been subjected to FGM/C, is also significantly understudied (as per the systematic literature review conducted by the author).
This study assessed the communicative interface between the civil society organizations and the state in Egypt in the context of FGM/C. In particular, drawing on critical theoretical perspectives, it examined the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of community based organizations vis-à-vis the prevention of FGM/C amidst the repeated changes in policy and explored the nature of the relationship between the local organizations and the Egyptian state and whether and how this relationship had been improving or hindering the process of bringing about behavioral and social change at the grassroots level. This thesis attempts to bring a fresh perspective in communication, believing that the tensions, negotiations, and conflict experienced by people and organizations in everyday life are all part of a larger concept of communication.
A total of six in-depth interviews were held with key informants working in government and local non-profit organizations. Primary and secondary sources were used for critical analysis to ensure triangulation. The emerging themes revealed tension in the relationship between the government and local organizations as apparent in the government’s recent attempt to tighten control over the operations of NGOs through a new legislation. The marriage between the state and religion is one of the key factors perpetuating an ambiguous and ambivalent stance in regards to FGM/C in Egypt. Other examples of hegemony, power and control is evident in the findings, which shed light on issues of patriarchy and the state’s submission to global governance and norms.