Ms Nina Van Eekert
Nina Van Eekert is a PhD candidate at the University of Antwerp and Ghent University, Belgium who performs research on the topic of the medicalization of female genital cutting (FGC). The United Nations, the Word Health Organisation and other important international and national institutions strongly opposes medicalized FGC, mainly based on the argumentation that the involvement of health-care providers in the performance of FGC is likely to create a legitimization of the practice which can further contribute to an institutionalization of the practice and therefore impede progress towards the abandonment of FGC. Yet, to date, no empirical research confirms this proposition and it remains unclear whether medicalization actually counteracts the abandonment of FGC. Counterarguments are that medicalization of FGC functions as a harm-reduction strategy and as a means of sensitization for health risks of FGC and will eventually lead to abandonment. Also, medicalization might make the practice less visible making it less subject of social control. The current PhD project aims to fil this gap in the literature by exploring trends in medicalization of the practice and it’ association with women’s social position using data from both Egypt and Kenya. Main research questions include the examination of the social profile and motivations of women who opt for a medicalized cut, as well as how this medicalization trend associates with overall prevalence rates of FGC. Comparing Egypt and Kenya is interesting due to their deviating FGC trends. Half of medicalized cuts worldwide are performed in Egypt, while prevalence rates remain high as well. Kenya, on the contrary, is the only country where increases in medicalization rates go together with decreases in FGC prevalence rates.