The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Responsibility: M.S.

First Advisor

Sandrine Zerbib

Second Advisor

Ann Finan

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

FGM/FGC, Somali women, circumcision



This thesis discusses the practice of female circumcision among Somali immigrant women in a small Midwest community. The literature review gives the historical background of the practice, how it has been criminalized, how organizations are change agents and what impact culture has upon the practice. In the methodology section, the research method is reviewed and highlights the success and difficulties of the qualitative research that was conducted over a span of 2.5 years. The section describes the process from the beginning of me having a presence in the Somali community to how I networked and used a snow ball sampling method to gain additional interviewees. The first woman who interviewed with me helped me gain the confidence and trust of the women who followed suit. Additionally, the analysis explores the reasoning behind, and cultural meaning that is tied to the practice, and how it affects women for the course of their adult life. The analysis gives voice to the women’s personal experience with the practice and in what ways it affects their sense of self. Their stories inform the reader about the impact of their culture and how it is challenged by being in the United States. The conclusion discusses the findings from the interviews, and highlights the ways in which women feel they have been impacted. It then discusses what variables are at play in challenging the future of the practice.



Mike, thank you for your ongoing encouragement. I am so grateful for all the ways in which you supported my interests and passions that led to this research. You were with me in times of breakthroughs, and when I felt defeated. Thank you for being my sounding board, editor, and for all the late nights you spent being my cheerleader. Dr. Zerbib, no words can express how appreciative I am to you for your knowledge, and hours upon hours that you have set aside for my project to ensure its completion. For the last several years, you always insisted that I rise to meet every academic challenge. You have always given me an immense amount of support and critical feedback that has been instrumental to my success as a researcher. You never let me settle for mediocrity. I consider you a mentor, and am thankful for you being a part of this journey with me. Dr. Finan, thank you for your insight on this research. Your critical feedback helped shape the way in which the research was presented and tied together. Thank you Dr. Mwangi and Dr. Mutuo-Kombo, for your insight on African women. Your knowledge of this topic was invaluable to its authenticity, and in preserving the integrity of the women who contributed to the research of this thesis.



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