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The role of the church in ending female genital mutilation/cutting in order to promote the flourishing of women : a case study of the Wolaita Kale Heywet Church, Southern Ethiopia

Dora, Tihitina Telemos (2018-03)


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is the most harmful traditional practice (HTP) when it comes to affecting the flourishing of women in Wolaita, Southern Ethiopia. This study is motivated by the need to end FGM/C in Wolaita, where it has higher rates when compared to other parts of the country. The study aims to interrogate what role the Wolaita Kale Heywet Church (WKHC) plays - or can play - in ending FGM/C and promote the flourishing of women in Wolaita and beyond. The study is positioned within the field of Theology and Development with a focus on the intersection between gender, health and theology. It discusses FGM/C, the use of its terminology, the nature of the practice from a public health perspective, the consequences of FGM/C for health, how FGM/C is perceived in Africa, the prevalence of FGM/C in Ethiopia, and the governmental measures for its eradication. The findings indicate that FGM/C constitutes all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genital or cause damage to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It was further noted that the practice causes severe consequences for health with physical complications and psychological problems. The study also found that health workers are involved in performing FGM/C, although the practice is mainly carried out by traditional practitioners. Motivations for the practice are complex and interrelated, perpetuated by gender inequality and used as a means to control women’s sexuality in patriarchal societies such as those found in Southern Ethiopia. Based on the findings, the study explores, the notion of flourishing as a theological lens and valuable theory in the struggle against FGM/C and argues for greater engagement with African Feminist theology as embodied theology at the intersection of gender, development and theology. The study concludes with recommendations that would help the church to effectively eradicate this HTP in concerned areas.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Vroulike Genitale Mutilasie (vroulike verminking van geslagsdele)/ Sny (VGM/S) is die mees skadelike tradisionele praktyk (STP) wanneer dit kom by die florering van vroue in Wolaita, Suid-Ethiopië. Hierdie studie word gemotiveer deur die behoefte om VGM/S in Wolaita te beëindig, waar dit hoër syfers het in vergelyking met ander dele van die land. Die studie ondersoek watter rol die Wolaita Kale Heywet Kerk (WKHK) speel - of kan speel - om VGM/S te beëindig en die florering van vroue in Wolaita verder te bevorder. Die studie word geposisioneer binne die veld van Teologie en Ontwikkeling, met die klem op die interseksie gevind in die studie van geslag, gesondheid en teologie. Dit bespreek VGM/S, die gebruik van terminologie, die aard van hierdie praktyk vanuit 'n openbare gesondheids perspektief, die gevolge van VGM/S vir gesondheid, die persepsie VGM/S in Afrika, die voorkoms van VGM/S in Ethiopië, en die regeringsmaatreëls vir die uitroeiing daarvan. Die bevindings dui aan dat VGM/S alle prosedures behels, wat gedeeltelike of totale verwydering van die eksterne vroulike genitale of skade aan die vroulike geslagsorgane vir nie-mediese redes veroorsaak. Daar is verder bevind dat die praktyk ernstige gevolge vir die gesondheid het, wat fisiese komplikasies en sielkundige probleme veroorsaak. Die studie het ook bevind dat gesondheidswerkers betrokke is by die uitvoering van VGM/S, hoewel die praktyk hoofsaaklik deur tradisionele praktisyne uitgevoer word. Motiverings vir die praktyk is kompleks en interafhanklik, voortgesit deur ongelykheid tussen geslagte en word gebruik om vroue se seksualiteit in patriargale samelewings soos dié in Suider-Ethiopië te beheer. Op grond van die bevindinge, ondersoek die studie uiteindelik die idee van floreer as 'n teologiese lens en waardevolle teorie in die stryd teen VGM/S en argumenteer vir groter betrokkenheid by Afrika-feministiese teologie, as beliggaamde teologie gevind in die interseksie van geslag, ontwikkeling en teologie. Die studie sluit af met aanbevelings wat die kerk sal help om hierdie STP effektief uit te roei.

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