For historical reference only, Hanny is now 94 and has retired
Qualifications of Hanny Lightfoot-Klein for serving as expert
witness in Immigration Court hearings for women threatened, if forced to
return to their own countries, with:
- Genital Mutilation (FGM)
- Honor Killing
- Forced Marriage
- Rape and other forms of Physical Abuse
- Genital Mutilation of their Daughters
- I received my Masters of Arts degree in Social Psychology from the
American University in Washington, D.C. in 1959 and my Bachelor of Arts
degree in Psychology from the George Washington University in
Washington, D.C. in 1950.
- Between 1979 and 1984 I spent a total of 32 months of self motivated,
concentrated field research in Sudan, Kenya, and Egypt, studying female
genital mutilation (FGM). The geographic area of my most intensive
research was northern and central Sudan, where the practices are
particularly severe and ubiquitous. A considerable portion of this time
was also devoted to researching the practices in Kenya.
- I gained access to medical installations of all sorts, lived with
families in the capital, in towns, villages and desert oases, and
witnessed more than 100 births in heart-breakingly deficient and
ill-equipped medical installations and on the dirt floors of village
huts. This enabled me to witness first hand the life threatening
complications created by the massive and hardened scarring resulting
from the genital mutilations inflicted on women in infancy, childhood,
adolescence or prior to marriage. I witnessed the death through
exsanguination of a number of these women. I interviewed over 400 people
in all walks of life on the psychological, social, marital, historical,
medical, religious, political, and legal aspects of the practices.
- I published my research findings in four books: Prisoners of Ritual:
An Odyssey into Female Genital Circumcision in Africa (1989), A Woman's Odyssey into Africa: Tracks Across a Life
and Secret Wounds (2002), which
has been republished as Children's
Genitals Under the Knife: Cultural Imperatives, Secrecy, and Shame
- In 1991, I received an award for "Outstanding Ethnographic
Scholarship in Sexology" for Prisoners of Ritual. In 1994 I was a
finalist for the "June Roth Memorial Book Award for Excellence in
Writing on Health and Medicine", presented by the American Society of
Journalists and Authors for A Woman's Odyssey into Africa.
- In 2001, I was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the
International Symposium on Human Rights and Modern Society for my years
of continuing research on Female Genital Cutting and its surrounding issues.
- My third book, Secret Wounds, which delves deeper into the social
questions surrounding FGM and ponders as well the medical ethics of
routine male circumcision and intersex surgery on non-consenting minors
in the Western World was released in 2003. I have published a
considerable number of articles on these topics in various scientific,
legal and humanist journals, both in the United States and abroad.
- My fourth book, Children's Genitals Under the Knife: Social Imperatives,
Secrecy and Shame, which addresses all forms of genital mutilation in minors,
was released in 2007.
- I am a fellow and Clinical Supervisor of the American Board of Sexology.
- I have presented my research findings at numerous international
symposia in the United States, Europe and Asia.
- I have published numerous articles in scientific texts and
journals (See publications, below).
- I have lectured at various universities and scientific national
and international congresses and meetings
(See lectures and symposia, below).
- My continuing research over the past two decades has included
in-depth interviews in Africa, the United States, Germany and
Switzerland with FGM victims from Angola, Guinea, Senegal, Kenya,
Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Sudan,
Tanzania and numerous different tribal groups.
- My field work and continuing research has given me a deep
understanding of the complex connections between custom, religion,
social orders and Female Genital Mutilation among the many diverse
cultures that co-exist in Africa. My understanding of these issues is
up-to-date through my own studies and continuing intimate contact with
the work of colleagues, with expertise in a broad range of
- Since 2001 I have represented asylum seekers from many parts of
Africa in Immigration Court hearings, in person, by telephone or via
- Based on my twenty-five years of continuing involvement with and
research into the problem of female genital mutilation in Africa and
among African immigrants in the United States and Europe, I am uniquely
qualified to serve as expert witness on this topic.
- I am available for written depositions as well as personal
testimony in Immigration Court. I have testified in both the United States
and the United Kingdom.
- (2007) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Children's Genitals Under the Knife,
Social Imperatives, Secrecy and Shame"
- (2003) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Der Beschneidungskandal" (The
Circumcision Scandal) Orlanda Buchverlag, Berlin.
- (2002) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Homeland Security", First of the
Month, Vol 4, Issue 2, p. 24, 12/31/02
- (2000) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Cheryl Chase, Tim Hammond and Ronald
Goldman, "Genital Surgery on Children Below the Age of Consent" in
Psychological Perspectives on Human Sexuality, Section lV, Issues of
Cultural Concern, Chapter 12, Szuchman L.T. and Muscarela, F., Eds.,
John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York, pp.440-479.
- (1999) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Weibliche Genitalverstümmelung unter
Afrikanischen Einwanderinnen: Gedanken zu einem besseren Verstaendnis"
(Female Genital Mutilation among African Immigrants: Some Thoughts to a
better Understanding) in Weibliche Genitalverstümmelung: Eine
Fundamentale Menschenrechtsverletzung, (Female Genital Mutilation: A
Fundamental Human Rights Abuse), Petra Schnuell, ed., Terre des Femmes,
Goettingen, pp 99-104.
- (l997) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Similarities in Attitudes and
Misconceptions about Male and Female Sexual Mutilations", Sexual
Mutilations: A Human Tragedy, George C. Denniston and Marilyn Fayre
Milos Eds., Plenum Press, New York, 131-135.
- (1994) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Female Genital Mutilation" in
Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, Vern Bullough, Ed., Garland Publishing
Inc., New York, 205-208.
- (1994), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Disability in Female Immigrants with
Ritually Inflicted Genital Mutiliation, Special Issue on Women and
Disabilities", Women in Therapy, Haworth Press, Binghamton, New York,
- (l994) Hanny Lightfot-Klein "Disabilities in Female Immigrants with
Ritually Inflicted Genital Mutilation", Women with Disabilities,
Willmuth and Holcomb Eds., Haworth Press, Binghamton, New York, l87-l95.
- (1993), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Genital Mutilation, Female," in
Encyclopedia of Childbirth, Barbara Katz Rothman, Ed., Baruch Oryx
Press, Phoenix, AZ, 160-162.
- (1991), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, M.A. and Evelyn Shaw, R.N., M.S.,
"Special Needs of Ritually Circumcised Woman Patients," Journal of
Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Neo-Natal Nursing, 20 (2), 102-107.
- (1991), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Orgasm in Ritually
Circumcised African Women," Proceedings First International Conference
on Orgasm, Prakash
Kothari and Rafi Patel, Eds., VRP Publishers, New Delhi, India, 121-130
- (1989), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "The sexual experience and marital
adjustment of genitally circumcised and infibulated females in an
Afro-Arab Islamic society (Sudan)," Journal of Sex Research, 26 (3),
- (1989), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Ueber radikale Beschneidung von Frauen
im Sudan (Radical Circumcision of Women in Sudan)," Zeitschrift fur
Sexualforschung, 2(2), 147-159.
- (1989), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Rites of purification and their effects:
Some psychological aspects of female genital circumcision and
infibulation (Pharaonic circumcision) in an Afro-Arab Islamic society
(Sudan)," Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2 (2),, 79-91.
- (1983), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Pharaonic Circumcision of Females in the
Sudan," Medicine and Law, 2, 353-60.
- (8/1983), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, M.A. and Robert Goebel, M.D.,
"Beschwerden nach Genital-Verstümmelung (Complications after genital
mutilation)," Sexualmedizin, 352-53.
- (February 6-13, 2009) Distinguished Lecturer on Female Genital
Mutilation, Chatham University, Pittsburgh PA.
- (April 4-7, 2002), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, The Seventh International
Symposium on Human Rights and Modern Society, What's Going On: New
Alliances, New Ideas, New Gains, New Hopes and New Futures, Georgetown
University Conference Center, Washington, D.C.
- (March 31, 2001) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Keynote Address, "Genital
Integrity: What Will It Take?" National Organization of Circumcision
Information Resource Centers, Genital Integrity: A New Awareness, March
31-April 1, Washington, D.C.
- (April 14, 2000) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Panelist, "FGM: Where are We
Now, and Where are We Headed?" Johns Hopkins University School of Public
Health, Baltimore, MD.,
- (Nov. 14, 1998), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Panelist, "Prisoners of Ritual:
Understanding Female Genital Mutilation" Ohio Northern University
College of Law, Ada, OH.
- (October 6, l997), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein. Chair, Gloria Steinem,
co-Chair, Panel: Understanding Female Genital Mutilation: What Can Be
Done? 92nd Street YWHA/YMHA, New York.
- (August 9-11, 1996) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Similarities in Attitudes
and Misconceptions Toward Infant Male Circumcision and Female Genital
The Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations: Global
Perspectives on Male and Female Genital Mutilation: Circumcision, Ethics
and Human Rights, Lausanne, Switzerland.
- (May 22-25, 1994) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein. "Erroneous Belief Systems
underlying Female Genital Mutilation, in Sub-Saharan Africa and Male
Neo-Natal Circumcision in the United States: A Brief Report Updated",
3rd International Symposium on Circumcision, Washington, D.C.
- (April 30-May 3, 1992), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "The Ever Increasing
Spread of Female Genital Mutilation into Europe, its Medical
Implications, and the Need for Absolute Clarity on What Constitutes
Ethical Behavior in Regard to its Potential Medicalization," 12th
Scientific Congress of the Society for Practical Sexual Medicine,
Heidelberg University, Heidelberg,Germany.
- (November 7-10, 1991), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Ritual of Tribal Identity
or Child Abuse?," 34th Annual Meeting, Society for the Scientific Study
of Sex, New Orleans, LA.
- (June 18-22, 1991) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Prisoners of Ritual: An
Overview of Contemporary Female Genital Mutilation," Symposium on
Women's Issues in Sexology: Xth World Congress of Sexology, Amsterdam,
- (May 27-June 1, 1991) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Visiting Lecturer,
Symposium on Female Genital Mutilation, Ethnological Institute,
University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
- (April 30-May 3, 1991), Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Plenary on "Prisoners of
Ritual: Some Contemporary Developments in the History of Female Genital
Mutilation," Second International Symposium on Circumcision, San
- (February 3-7, 1991) , Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, Plenary on "Orgasm in
Ritually Circumcised African Women," First International Conference on
Orgasm, New Delhi, India, (Award for original ethnographic research,
presented by Indian Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and
- (March 9-12, 1989) , Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Female Genital Circumcision
in Africa: What is its Significance to our own Culture?," presented at
the 14th National Conference, Association of Women in Psychology,
- (November 10-13, 1988) , Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Female Genital
Circumcision in Africa," presented at the 31st Annual Meeting, Society
for the Scientific Study of Sex, San Francisco, CA.
- (September 18-22, 1984) Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, "Pharaonic Circumcision
of Females in the Sudan," presented at the Xth International Meeting,
International Academy of Sex Research, Cambridge, England.
- (Spring Term, 1981) Guest Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Ahfad