The New York Times Book Review
"Hanny Lightfoot-Klein has dedicated the past decade of her life to studying firsthand how and why these things are done. She describes herself as an amateur, but she explores, takes chances, asks questions, reasons and writes like an anthropologist, so as far as I am concerned she is one. Prisoners of Ritual is her superb account of what she discovered. Although it is part travelogue-and an exciting one at that-it is mostly solid ethnnographic research focused on the enigma of female genital mutilation"
"An... account of the methods, medical and psychological ramifications, and cultural context of female circumcision in Sudan and other parts of Africa-all culled from unusually candid personal interviews and the author's own thoughtful considerations...A brief comparison to the American habit of circumcising infant boys for nonreligious reasons makes an interesting postscript Altogether, an excellent, revealing study"
Journal of Social Development in Africa.
"Regarding the practice of female circumcision itself, the book is a mine of information...One must try to understand the cultural values and expectations that lead so many men and women to support the practice. Lightfoot-Klein helps us to do this, whilst at no time endorsing it For anyone concerned about women's isssues and the ways that culture and custom can dictate the most severe mutilation and assault on women, this book is valuable reading... A balanced, objective, sensitive and perceptive portrayal of this highly emotive issue"
Professor Gunter Schmidt, Director, Division of Sex Research, Psychiatric and Nerve Clinic, University of Hamburg, Germany
"Vivid and lively...[The Author} describes in detail and with care the social functions of the customs for the Sudanese women and their participation to continue the practice of [female] circumcistion. Furthermore, the author is successful in avoiding any Euro-centric (or US-centric) instructions towards women of the so-called Third World.
Ashley Montague Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Cultural Anthropology, Princeton University
"A highly important book which is likely to have worldwide repercussions for the good."
John Money, PhD, Professor of Medical Psychology Emeritus, The John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"This is an illuminative book...It is also an illustriously fair-minded book. Among writings on genital mutilations, therefore, it is unique in giving the reader a 360 degree understanding of the social and personal significance of such practices. It tells the truth and the truth is devastating...Yet, because the book does not sensationalize, wrath does not override compassion, and the gateway to change is unlocked and kept open. There's nothing else quite like it!
Patricia Schroeder, Congresswoman
More than anything else, Hanny Lightfoot-Klein's book should motivate U.S. and international agencies to increase opposition to this appalling practice.
Prisoners of Ritual is two stories in one: the odyssey of Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, a Western woman travelling alone through Africa, and the collective story of African women suffering genital mutilation. As she breaks free and sees the lives of other women, we begin to see that our experiences under patriarchy are different only in degree.