According to UNICEF, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Guinea-Bissau is 50%. 18% of all girls had the procedure performed after the age of 15. Terre des Femmes notes that prevalence among the Fula ethnic group is 70-80% and in most cases girls are cut by a traditional practitioner, the most common type of FGM/C is excision.
In Guinea-Bissau FGM/C is performed as a preparation for marriage preparation, it is supposed to cleanse the woman physically and spiritually. An uncut woman is considered unclean, so she must neither prepare nor serve food. It is believed that FGM/C ensures virginity before marriage and prevents child mortality.
FGM/C Country of Origin Expert for Guinea-Bissau
Dr Michelle C. Johnson
In the late 1990s Dr Johnson began conducting research on Islam, ethnicity, and life course rituals among Mandinga people in Guinea-Bissau. Her first project focused on boys’ and girls’ initiation rituals and local responses to the global debate surrounding FGM/C practices. She has lived in both Bissau, the capital city, and in a small Mandinga village in the northern Oio region. Dr Johnson has published two chapters on female genital cutting practices in Guinea-Bissau: “Becoming a Muslim; Becoming a Person: Female ‘Circumcision,’ Religious Identity, and Personhood in Guinea-Bissau,” in Female “Circumcision in Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change, and “Making Mandinga or Making Muslims? Debating Female Circumcision, Ethnicity, and Islam in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal,” In Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context. In 1999, she began working with Mandinga and Fula immigrants from Guinea-Bissau living in and around Lisbon, Portugal. Her work in the contemporary African diaspora has focused on how Guinean Muslims are arguing about what it means to be both “Africans” and “modern” Muslims in urban Europe, as they come in increased contact with Muslims from outside of Africa. Dr Johnson also routinely serve as an ‘expert witness’ on asylum cases in the United States for West African women who oppose the practice of FGM/C for themselves of for the American-born daughters.
We have no Anti-FGM/C Organisations in Guinea-Bissau, but would welcome suggestions. Please contact us.