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  1. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING? Edilberto Loaiza Ph.D. Strategic Information Section, DPP. UNICEF

  2. Definition of FGM/C • Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) includes “a range of practices involving the complete or partial removal or alteration of the external genitalia for non-medical reasons.” • Shell-Duncan, Bettina, and Yiva Hernlund, eds. 2000

  3. FGM/C Violates the Rights of Girls and Women • FGM/C violates girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights: • It denies them of their right to physical and mental integrity • It denies them of their right to freedom from violence and discrimination • It denies them in the most extreme case the right to life • An extreme example of discrimination based on sex

  4. FGM/C: When and How • The procedure is generally carried out on girls between the ages of 4 and 14 • it is also done to infants • women who are about to be married and, • It is often performed by traditional practitioners, including midwives/traditional birth attendants and barbers, • using scissors, razor blades or broken glass

  5. FGM/C: Indicators • Prevalence(%) of FGM/C among women aged 15-49 • Prevalence(%) of FGM/C among daughters • Percentage of women 15-49 years old who believe the practice of FGM/C should continue

  6. FGM/C: Magnitude • According to a WHO estimate, between 100 and 140 million women and girls in the world have undergone some form of FGM/C (WHO, 2000) • It is further estimated that up to three million girls in sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt and Sudan are at risk of genital mutilation/cutting annually (Yoder et al. 2005)

  7. Percentage of women aged 15-49 with FGM/C

  8. FGM/C prevalence in Egypt, 2003

  9. FGM/C prevalence in Kenya, 2003

  10. FGM/C prevalence in Benin, 2001

  11. FGM/C prevalence among women and daughters

  12. DIFFERENTIALS OF FGM/C • Age of women • Mother’s education • Place of residence • Ethnicity • Religion • Household wealth

  13. Change of the practice over time: lower levels of FGM/C among younger generations (Women)

  14. Change of the practice over time: lower levels of FGM/C among younger generations (Daughters)

  15. Mother’s education is associated with the FGM/C status of their daughters

  16. Rural women have significantly higher levels of FGM/C when total prevalence is below 75%(except for Yemen and Nigeria)

  17. Is FGM/C serving as an ethnic marker?

  18. In the majority of countries, FGM/C is performed by traditional practicioners

  19. BELIEFS vs. PRACTICESSUPPORT OF FGM/C • Support for the practice is not universal and it tends to vary within and between countries

  20. Support for the continuation of FGM/C is substantially lower than the percentage of women that has undergone the practice

  21. SUPPORT OF FGM/CSocio-economic and demographic differentials • Age • Education • Place of residence • Religion • Women’s empowerment • Decision-making in regard to health care, large household purchases, • Non-acceptance of wife-beating

  22. Support for the continuation of FGM/C varies across countries and ages

  23. In 10 of the 15 countries, support for the continuation of FGM/C is higher among women with “no education”

  24. In most countries, women residing in rural areas tend to favour the continuation of FGM/C

  25. Egyptian and Ethiopian women who support the continuation of FGM/C are respectively 3.2 and 2.1 times more likely to accept that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she argues with her husband

  26. PERCEIVED CAUSES/BENEFITS • Custom and tradition/good tradition • Religion • Other reasons • Preserves a girl’s virginity • Protects her from becoming promiscuous • Prevents her from engaging in immoral behaviours • A girl can’t be married unless she is circumcised • Hygiene and cleanliness • FGM/C brings greater pleasure to husbands

  27. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS • FGM/C prevalence rates are slowly declining • Attitudes towards FGM/C are slowly changing as more and more women oppose its continuation • Strategies to end FGM/C must be accompanied by holistic, community-based education and awareness-raising • Programmes must be cross-country specific and adapted to reflect regional, ethnic and socioeconomic variances • Detailed disaggregation of data by socioeconomic variables can significantly enhance and strengthen advocacy efforts at the country level

  28. “Even though cultural practices may appearsenseless or destructive from the standpoint of others, they have meaning and fulfil a functionfor those who practise them. However, cultureis not static; it is in constant fl ux, adapting andreforming. People will change their behaviourwhen they understand the hazards andindignity of harmful practices and when theyrealize that it is possible to give up harmfulpractices without giving up meaningful aspectsof their culture.” Female Genital Mutilation, A joint WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA statement, 1997

  29. Is religion associated with the FGM/C status of women?

  30. How consistent is household wealth in determining the practice of FGM/C?

  31. Support for the continuation of FGM/C is found in greater numbers among Muslim women

  32. In Mali, women supporting the continuation of FGM/C are more likely to have their husbands deciding on their own health care

  33. MARRIAGEABILITY BENEFITS • The belief that FGM/C is necessary to ensure better marriage prospects for a daughter is most widespread among women in Côte d’Ivoire (36 per cent), Niger (29 per cent) and Eritrea (25 per cent) • Anthropological studies indicate that prospects for marriage and social connections through marriage are the main factors behind the persistence of FGM/C • Changes will happen when the self-enforcing social convention nature of FGM/C will be addressed