Becoming and Being a Woman: Meanings and Values of Labial Elongation for Zambians in Cape Town

Guillermo Martínez Pérez, Mwenya Mubanga, Concepción Tomás Aznar, Brigitte Bagnol


Zambian women might doubt whether to stop or preserve labial elongation, which is a female genital modification instructed to the girl child as the first rite of passage into womanhood. We conducted a grounded theory research among Zambian men and women who had immigrated to Cape Town. Twenty women and seventeen men participated. Beliefs and perceptions around womanhood, gender roles and pleasure place elongation as a practice that is highly valued by Zambians in South Africa. Interventions to promote and improve women’s sexual health -such as capacity building of healthcare professionals and design of information, education and communication materials- can be informed by framing and documenting the implications for the Zambian migrant women’s sexual and social wellbeing of this practice.


Labia minora elongation; Zambia; Qualitative research; Female genital modifications; South Africa

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