Female circumcision among girls growing up in Norway is much less widespread then originally thought, according to a new report. There were 15 known cases of female circumcision in 2006 and 2007. Researcher Hilde Lidén of the Institute for Social Research says they had expected higher numbers. The study was prepared for the Ministry of Children and Equality and for the Ministry of Health.
NRK reported last summer that at least 185 Norwegian-Somali girls had been circumcised in the past three years.
Lidén says that some cases aren't known since circumcision is a private practices, but that there aren't that many. They suppose there had been a decline in the number of circumcisions of Norwegian girls.
Six of the fifteen cases were reported to the police.
The researchers think that there's a change in attitudes and hope this will contribute to reducing the extent of female circumcision. In the past girls were circumcised in order to make it easier for them to be married off, but now this argument isn't as valid. Lidén says that boys from those communities prefer marrying a girl who isn't circumcised, and when it isn't a religious commandment the practice doesn't continue. Girls who aren't circumcised don't feel stigmatized, rather it's the circumcised girls who feel stigmatized. This shows a cultural tradition can change.
The law against female circumcision is becoming better known, which is also an influencing factor.
Norwegian Church Aid works against female circumcision in ten African countries in East and west Africa.Kari Øyem, program coordinator in East Africa also feels that things are changing.
Øyem says that the reports they get from Somalia show that more and more boys say they want to get married to a girl who isn't circumcised. Systematic work to influence attitudes is the only way to make a change. But this is painstaking work, things can change over a few generations. It requires massive efforts and working with various groups: parents, religious leaders and political leaders.
Schools, kindergartens and the Child Welfare department receive reports of female circumcision. Lidén says that there's a clear increase in the number of reports, from 2006 to 2007, and that they think the increased suspicions are a result of the media debate last summer.
Circumcision is done at birth in some countries, but in others it can be as late as about 14 years (and even later)
The recent reports also says that Norwegian schools and kindergarten know too little about female circumcision. Teachers and Child Welfare employees they they want to know more. Health service employees think that they have sufficient knowledge about female circumcision.
Lidén says they recommend that the public services increase it's knowledge and competency about female circumcision.
Sources: VG , Institute for Social Research (Norwegian)
See also: Norway: Gov't plan against female circumcision, Norway: Responses to female circumcision, Norway: Somali circumcisers admit circumcising Norwegian girls