Global Resources

‘I Carry the Name of my Parents’: young people’s reflections on FGM and forced marriage - results from PEER studies in London, Amsterdam and Lisbon

Author: J. Hemmings, S. Khalifa
Publisher: Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development
Publication Date: Jan 2013
This report presents the results of three participatory ethnographic evaluation research (PEER) studies, carried out as part of the CREATE Youth-Net project, which aims to safeguard young people in three European countries (the United Kingdom, Portugal and the Netherlands) from harmful practices, in particular Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. Twenty-eight young men and women, from diverse ethnicities, were recruited by project partners in Lisbon, Amsterdam and London to act as PEER researchers. All were aged between 18-29 years old, with an average age of 23 years. They were trained in conducting conversational interviews and ethical practice, and selected three trusted friends with whom to conduct in-depth discussions. A total of 82 respondents took part. Interviews covered a range of themes, including migration experiences, gender and social norms, notions of cultural identity, and harmful practices including FGM and forced marriage.

Among the key findings of this study is that young first- and second-generation migrants value human rights, choice, and freedom whilst retaining respect for their elders. The concept of 'the family name' or honour, which is often closely linked to the maintenance of female virginity before marriage, remains a particularly influential value in the daily lives of young women. Young people must be helped to overcome age/power barriers, which may prevent them from speaking with family members about such taboo issues, and reporting crimes such as FGM and forced marriage. These results support the project’s emphasis on empowering young people as agents of change: they are open to the idea of culture being adaptable (keeping certain aspects whilst moving away from harmful practices) and many want to contribute to ending harmful practices. Human dignity, freedom and opportunities for self-development were important values to the majority of respondents. However, the PEER studies also identified some potential challenges that need to be addressed at policy and programme level. The CREATE Youth-Net project project is funded by the European Commission Daphne programme, and led by Foundation for Women’s Health and Development (FORWARD), in partnership with Federation of Somali Associations in the Netherlands (FSAN), Family Planning Association Portugal (APF) and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO).