How can I approach conversations?
FGM/C can be difficult to bring up and discuss with others. If you find it difficult to begin the conversation, try framing it first around larger social issues affecting women such as health and well-being, childbirth, domestic violence, or other forms of gender-based violence.* You can also bring up the topic of FGM/C by sharing an article or talking about something you heard (on television, radio, or through other media) and asking their opinion.* When talking to people with very little knowledge about FGM/C, visit our “What is FGM/C” page and share the prevalence, types of FGM/C, and health effects.
Below we have listed tips for how to have conversations about FGM/C. These can be a starting point for you on how to navigate a sensitive topic.
|Ask if the person(s) would like to or is comfortable talking about a heavy topic*||
Never view the conversation as a competition to, but rather a way to have healthy and respectful communication1
|Be open minded. Keep a calm tone and display open body language by looking at their face and keeping arms relaxed at your side*,1||
Avoid making assumptions about their opinions. Instead ask them directly (i.e. How do you feel about FGM/C and why?)*,2
|Let them know this is a safe, comfortable, and confidential space to speak about FGM/C*||
Try not to place blame or criticize their views by judging them or putting them down (e.g.“That is stupid to think that way”; “How could you believe that?”)*
Practice active listening by not talking while the other person is speaking. Listen without jumping to conclusions. Once they have finished speaking, let them know you understand what they have said*,1,2
|Steer away from questions that require a simple one or two word answer. Instead ask open-ended questions such as “Why do you feel that way?” or “Can you talk more about that?”*,1|
Stay engaged throughout the conversation by being present, asking follow up questions, and maintaining eye contact*,2
|Refrain from using “You” statements such as “You can’t possibly believe that.” Rather use “I” statements such as “I hear what you are saying”1|
|Thank them for discussing this difficult topic. Ask if they would like to continue discussions in the future*||Do not continue the conversation if someone is uncomfortable or is dealing with emotional distress1|
Here's a resource that may be helpful as you are beginning or practicing how to have difficult conversations about FGM/C: https://www.mumkinapp.com
What are possible questions to ask during conversations on FGM/C?*
General FGM/C questions to ask
- What do you know about FGM/C and where did you learn it?
- Do you know anyone that has gone through FGM/C? How has it impacted them?
- Why do you think that FGM/C continues today?
- How do you think FGM/C affects families and communities?
FGM/C questions to ask a partner
- Has FGM/C affected your life? If yes, how so?
- How can we best communicate about FGM/C?
- How can I better support you as your partner?
- What would be helpful in terms of intimacy for me to know?
FGM/C questions to ask a daughter or female relative
- Have you ever heard about FGM/C?
- What would you like to know about FGM/C?
- Why do you think that FGM/C is practiced?
- How can you protect your future daughter?
FGM/C questions to ask other men
- What role do you think men play in the decision-making of FGM/C?
- Why do you think that FGM/C is still practiced today?
- How do you think FGM/C affects men?
- How can men be more involved in raising awareness and preventing FGM/C?
In this video, hear how Hatim approached a conversation around FGM/C with his sister.
*Interviews conducted with men in Winter 2020 to Spring 2021.