Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 483–489 | Cite as

Depression, Anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and a History of Pervasive Gender-Based Violence Among Women Asylum Seekers Who Have Undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Retrospective Case Review

  • Hazel Lever
  • Deborah Ottenheimer
  • Jimmitti Teysir
  • Elizabeth Singer
  • Holly G. AtkinsonEmail author
Original Paper


We sought to evaluate the frequency of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and any experiences of violence in women who had undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and were seeking asylum in the United States. We undertook a retrospective qualitative descriptive study of FGM/C cases seen in an asylum clinic over a 2-year period. Standardized questionnaires provided quantitative scores for anxiety, depression and PTSD. Clients’ personal and physician medical affidavits were analyzed for experiences of violence. Of the 13 cases, anxiety and depression were exhibited by 92 and 100% of women, while all seven women screened for PTSD had symptoms. Qualitative analysis revealed extensive violence perpetrated against these women, demonstrating that FGM/C is only part of the trauma experienced. The high level of mental health disorders and endured violence has implications for providers working with FGM/C survivors and indicates the need for accessible mental health services and trauma-informed care.


Mental health Depression Anxiety PTSD Female genital mutilation/cutting Gender-based violence Asylum seekers 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hazel Lever
    • 1
  • Deborah Ottenheimer
    • 1
  • Jimmitti Teysir
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Singer
    • 1
  • Holly G. Atkinson
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Mount Sinai Human Rights ProgramIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Office of Student Affairs, Department of Medical Education and Academic AffairsCity University of New York School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medical EducationIcahn School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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