Harmful traditional practices in diaspora communities

Question

What is the evidence of the continuation or cessation of (or changes to) harmful traditional practices by diaspora communities contrary to trajectories of change in their countries of origin. Please include evidence on female genital mutilation/cutting and child, early and forced marriage.

Summary

In general, the trajectory of change among the diaspora communities discussed in the literature surveyed for this report is away from carrying out HTPs. There are fewer examples identified of communities wishing to uphold these practices in their new countries.

The literature identifies several factors which impact on change in attitudes and practices:

  • Legality: All host countries in this report have made HTPs illegal. Knowledge of the law, and fear of repercussions, have an impact on communities’ willingness to undertake HTPs.
  • Social pressures: Diaspora respondents often cited that being away from their extended families and home communities freed them from the pressure to perform HTPs.
  • Cultural integration: Assimilating new values and norms from the host society has a very strong impact on HTPs. Where the majority of people do not undertake a certain practice, this make the diaspora community less likely to do so.
  • Access to information: Awareness raising and education campaigns directed at people who practice FGM/C often has a considerable impact on the practice, when they learn about the harmful medical effects, the lack of a religious requirement, or the human rights aspect. There is less evidence on this for early marriage.
  • Diasporic identity: Members of the diaspora are influenced by home and host societies’ influences, and often struggle between respect for traditions and new opportunities. Second-generation children can use traditional practices for their own purposes, such as early marriage to escape parents’ control.

This report found some differing evidence among these factors. The diaspora communities discussed in the literature do not necessarily adopt the same views or behave uniformly in relation to HTPs, nor do all members of a particular community. There are various examples in the literature of people exercising individual agency against the mainstream. In addition, culture is not static and can change and adapt according to circumstances.