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

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Presentation on theme: "WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING? Edilberto Loaiza Ph.D. Strategic Information Section, DPP. UNICEF"— Presentation transcript:

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 womens 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 Prevalence(%) of FGM/C among daughters Percentage of women 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 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 Mothers 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 Mothers 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. PRACTICES SUPPORT 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/C Socio-economic and demographic differentials Age Education Place of residence Religion Womens 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 girls virginity Protects her from becoming promiscuous Prevents her from engaging in immoral behaviours A girl cant 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 appear senseless or destructive from the standpoint of others, they have meaning and fulfil a function for those who practise them. However, culture is not static; it is in constant fl ux, adapting and reforming. People will change their behaviour when they understand the hazards and indignity of harmful practices and when they realize that it is possible to give up harmful practices without giving up meaningful aspects of 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 dIvoire (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


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