Purpose: Based on two instances of qualitative research, this paper aims to develop some considerations on the meanings given by women to the term “reparation” after female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). The various aspects involved and the importance of integrating a comprehensive approach in medicine are all explored.
Methods: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with a group of 8 immigrant women of sub-Saharan origin living in Switzerland with Type III FGM/C (infibulation) and 32 first and second generation immigrant women living in France with Type II FGM/C (excision) who have undergone or asked for clitoral reconstruction. In total 40 women were questioned on the meaning they give to the term “reparation” within their health and sexual life.
Results: While the group of women with infibulation and the group of women with excision differed in their sociodemographic characteristics and the context of FGM/C, both groups affirmed their desire to improve, or at least change, their condition. Reparative approaches were then evoked by women who would "repair" something "lost" or "stolen"; the word" reparation" acquires a wide range of meanings and dimensions which are not only physical, but also psychosexual, social and moral.
Conclusion: Specific healthcare services in term of reparative approach allow for the development of a discussion with women with FGM/C. Medicine is called upon to engage in a dialogue with the patients and their narratives. Reparative approaches may be able to offer more comprehensive healthcare and take an ethical stand when an element of injustice is present.
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