Amref ARP near Magadi, Maasai elders blessing initiates. Photo courtesy of Lotte Hughes

Welcome to the information and discussion hub on “Alternative Rites of Passage” (ARP). Here, you will find summaries of and links to resources on ARP as well as thought-provoking blog posts written by researchers, activists, development practitioners, and policymakers.

ARP is commonly defined as a strategy used by non-governmental organisations in their efforts to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) by mimicking the ‘traditional’ initiation ritual of which FGM/C is a part, but with the omission of the physical cut. ARP’s effectiveness in ending FGM/C, as well as the term itself, are contested.

On the 22nd of November 2021, researchers, activists, development practitioners, and (inter)national influencers held an open dialogue to discuss ARP.  Discussion topics included:

  • What role(s), if any, has ARP in the movement to end FGM/C?
  • What are the advantages and weaknesses of ARPs? 
  • Which challenges come with implementing ARPs? 
  • What are the unintended consequences of ARPs, both positive and negative? 
  • Do ARPs risk reinforcing gender inequalities? 
  • Can ARPs change attitudes and behaviours or instead reinforce or speed up change already on the way? 
  • What makes families who participate in ARPs different from families who do not?
  • If some ARPs have limited impact on changing attitudes and behaviour regarding FGM/C, can they have other benefits for girls, women, and wider society (e.g. messaging on female empowerment and women’s rights)? 
  • Can ARPs play a role in communities where FGM/C is not a part of an initiation ritual recognising the progression from girlhood to womanhood?

The report of the event can be read here.

The event also led to calls for action and the creation of task groups to take these calls for action forward. Subscribe to stay up to date about the latest developments in ARP research, policy and practice and join the conversation by interacting with this forum!

Get involved:

If you would like to become involved in one of the task groups, contact Dr Hannelore Van Bavel via hannelore.vanbavel@bristol.ac.uk.

We are very keen to generate discussion, for example in response to blogsIf you prefer not to give your name, that’s fine – your email address won’t show on the comment. You can simply give a first name and your background, such as development practitioner, academic, NGO staff. 
Or just say what it is you do without giving a first name. We look forward to hearing from you!