Internet-Based Resources on Female Genital Mutilation. (World Wide Web Review)
Levin, Tobe, Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources
Although African women have opposed the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM)--also known as female circumcision (FC) or female genital cutting--since at least the 1960s, only in the early 1990s has an explosion of global interest hurled the theme onto popular and academic landscapes. (1) For instance, on April 6, 2002, a Google search for "female genital mutilation" would have yielded 38,400 hits; the same search on the same day using Yahoo would bring up 30,000. No, I didn't burn my eyes on all 38,400, but I can assure you that with two exceptions, the first 400 Yahoo results were relevant, leading to governmental institutions, NGOs, universities, health facilities, law libraries, knowledgeable laypeople, and documentation ranging from newspaper clippings and editorial pages to refereed articles in respected journals.
Among these many apt results, the websites of several weighty institutions stand out as especially valuable resources for professionals as well as for newcomers to the topic. Because of the synergy of the approach taken by these organizations, exploring their sites will also lead to information and other resources related to HIV/AIDS, development, violence, and human rights. FGM is a highly interdisciplinary subject involving anthropology, ethnology, political science, law, immigration studies, health and medical specialties, not to mention media and issues of representation--that last being the only discipline underrepresented, on the Internet at least, among those first 400 hits.
The Female Genital Mutilation Education and Networking Project
Developed/maintained by: Marianne Sarkis
Hosted by: Dan Garcia; site is part of the FGM Awareness and Education Project of NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers)
Last Updated: August 2001 (major overhaul and update planned for July 2002)
Reviewed: April 6, 2002
Granted a "Go Network" Website Award in 1999, the Female Genital Mutilation Education and Networking Project is a web-based initiative that, Dani Hrzan has noted, (2) is "perfect for graduate students conducting research on various aspects of FGM." The site is popular among activists and professionals too, its main drawback at present being several features that have not been updated in years. This problem, however, should be solved in July 2002 with a headquarters change and resumption of active management.
In the meantime, the attractive red and brown homepage presents easily navigable, clear categories. Praiseworthy features include a search engine (with tips) and lists of FGM advocacy groups.
The lists of advocacy groups number many, but the major overhaul and updating scheduled for July 2002 should improve this section of the site. For instance, only eight African countries are currently listed; surely the twenty-plus members of the Inter-African Committee will be added. For Europe, the Netherlands' two main FGM groups--Pharos ("lighthouses"), for refugee health care, and FSAN (Federatie van Somalische Associaties in Nederland) need to be added, as do dozens of Italian organizations (although AIDos--Associazione Italiana Donne Per Lo Sviluppo--the leading Italian NGO, is listed). No groups at all are listed yet for Germany, although eight associations could appear here. The list for the U.S. is the most complete, although I noticed that the address given for the Godparents Association is not current. In fairness, it should be mentioned that the site owner does invite readers to email her with the names of other organizations that should be added (and I will certainly do so).
This site's greatest strengths are its in-depth articles by avant-garde scholars, links to authors' own websites, and links to sites offering theoretical and practice-oriented resources in health, law, religion, and advocacy. For example, clicking on "Links to Educational, Medical, and Legal Resources" leads to a list of further links offering such widely varying materials as online versions of the Qu'ran, Amnesty International's website, a guide to vulvar self-examination, and the Global Alliance for Women's Health's Women's Health Compendium. …