University of Nottingham Ningbo China
  • Intranet

Addressing Global Understanding and Mis-understanding of Female Genital Cutting

Lord Dearing Building A04
01 November 2018 (18:30-19:30)

For information on the Dialogues on Gender, Culture, & Identities, please contact: or



Addressing Global Understanding (and Mis-understanding) of Female Genital Cutting

Speaker: Mary J. Ainslie


Often referred to as ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM), ‘Female Circumcision’ and, in scholarly terms, as the more neutral ‘Female Genital Cutting’, the practice of cutting female genitalia for non-medical reasons is characterized as a severe form of violence against women and child abuse against girls. The WHO, UN and numerous NGOs all promote a ‘zero-tolerance’ attitude towards this practice, which is now associated with patriarchy, brutality and the suppression of female sexuality.

However, scholars recognize that such a strong emotional force and global campaign has often been counter-productive, perpetuating Eurocentric hierarchies, orientalist mis-conceptions and leading to misunderstanding of this complex and extremely varied practice. Within such global dynamics, female agency has been suppressed and the efforts and desires of women from marginalized communities are not heard.

This presentation will provide an overview of this complex practice and its social significance as well as the corresponding development in medical policies, global awareness and understanding. Furthermore, we will discuss the controversial impact global constructions have upon Asian and African women and the means to counter damaging stereotypes such practices are associated with.


Dr. Mary J. Ainslie is a Media and Cultural Studies specialist in the School of International Communications. When based at the Nottingham Malaysia Campus from 2011-2016 she was the first scholar to academically explore the 2009 Malaysian Female Circumcision Fatwa, working closely with Malaysian NGOs and women’s organizations in her research. Her published article “The 2009 Malaysian Female Circumcision Fatwa: State ownership of Islam and the current impasse” in the Women’s Studies International Forum ( was used as part of the Malaysian response to the WHO’s assessment of the Fatwa.


The Dialogues are supported by the
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Dialogues have a page on Moodle: please self-enroll! Click here