The purpose of the study was to analyze how Swedish midwives (n = 26) discuss sexuality in circumcised African women patients. In focus groups and interviews, discussions concentrated on care provided to circumcised women, training received for this care, and midwives' perceptions of female circumcision. An analytic expansion was performed for discussions pertaining to sexuality and gender roles. Results from the analysis show the following: (1) ethnocentric projections of sexuality; (2) a knowledge paradox regarding circumcision and sexuality; (3) the view of the powerless circumcised women; and (4) the fact that maternity wards function as meeting places between gender and culture where the encounters with men allow masculine hegemonic norms to be ruptured. We conclude that an increased understanding of cultural epistemology is needed to ensure quality care. The encounters that take place in obstetrical care situations can provide a space where gender and culture as prescribed norms can be questioned.
OBJECTIVES: to investigate Swedish midwives' perceptions and attitudes towards infibulation and infibulated women, midwives' experiences of providing care for them and the training the midwives describe having received to enable them to care for and deliver infibulated women. DESIGN: a multi-stage sampling procedure was used. Open-ended questionnaires were distributed to midwives in labour wards with the purpose of identifying midwives to contact for interviews and focus group discussions. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: twenty-six midwives from three labour wards and two antenatal clinics situated in two towns in central Sweden participated in eight focus group discussions and three individual interviews. FINDINGS: there were three major themes: (a) emotions and communicational challenges entailed in the care of infibulated women, (b) knowledge and skills needed for caring and (c) the midwives' reliance on the Swedish law when dealing with the dilemmas they face in their interactions with the women and their families. The data indicate communication problems on different levels between midwives and the women and their families. There appear to be few or no guidelines in the units on how to provide good care for infibulated women and little or no co-ordination between antenatal care and the maternity wards. KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: the care of infibulated women during pregnancy and childbirth seems to be a marginalised issue in the areas where this study was performed. Early acknowledgement of female genital mutilation during pregnancy as well as improved communication between health care units may help professionals to offer culturally sensitive professional care to the women and their families.