Tag Archives: Marriage

The social institution involving legal and/or religious sanction whereby men and women are joined together for the purpose of founding a family unit.

Determinants of coital frequency among married women in Central African Republic: The role of Female Genital Cutting

J Biosoc Sci. Oct 2002 34(04): 525-539

Determinants of coital frequency among married women in Central African Republic: The role of Female Genital Cutting

Stewart H, Morison L, White R


This paper examines determinants of one aspect of sexual behaviour – coital frequency – among 2188 married women in the Central African Republic using a secondary analysis of data from the Demographic and Health Survey of 1994–95. Female genital cutting (or circumcision) is practised in the Central African Republic and self-reported circumcision status was included in the questionnaire enabling it to be examined as a possible determinant of coital frequency. Multiple logistic regression was used to find a subset of factors independently associated with coital frequency. Decreased coital frequency was found in those who had longer duration of marriage, those who were not the most recent wife in a polygamous marriage and those who had more surviving children. Coital frequency was higher in more educated women and those not contracepting because they wanted to get pregnant. After adjusting for confounders no association between female genital cutting and coital frequency was found. The extent to which women can control coital frequency in this culture is not known and fertility desires may override any negative effects of circumcision on sexual pleasure. It was therefore not possible to draw conclusions about how female genital cutting affects a woman’s desire for sexual intercourse and consequently there is a need to develop research methods further to investigate this question.

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Dynamics of change in the practice of female genital cutting in Senegambia: testing predictions of social convention theory.

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Oct;73(8):1275-83. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Dynamics of change in the practice of female genital cutting in Senegambia: testing predictions of social convention theory.

Shell-Duncan B, Wander K, Hernlund Y, Moreau A.

University of Washington, Department of Anthropology, Box 353100, Seattle, WA 98195-3100, United States. bsd@u.washington.edu


Recent reviews of intervention efforts aimed at ending female genital cutting (FGC) have concluded that progress to date has been slow, and call for more efficient programs informed by theories on behavior change. Social convention theory, first proposed by Mackie (1996), posits that in the context of extreme resource inequality, FGC emerged as a means of securing a better marriage by signaling fidelity, and subsequently spread to become a prerequisite for marriage for all women. Change is predicted to result from coordinated abandonment in intermarrying groups so as to preserve a marriage market for uncircumcised girls. While this theory fits well with many general observations of FGC, there have
been few attempts to systematically test the theory. We use data from a three year mixed-method study of behavior change that began in 2004 in Senegal and The Gambia to explicitly test predictions generated by social convention theory.
Analyses of 300 in-depth interviews, 28 focus group discussions, and survey data from 1220 women show that FGC is most often only indirectly related to marriageability via concerns over preserving virginity. Instead we find strong evidence for an alternative convention, namely a peer convention. We propose that being circumcised serves as a signal to other circumcised women that a girl or woman has been trained to respect the authority of her circumcised elders and is  worthy of inclusion in their social network. In this manner, FGC facilitates the  accumulation of social capital by younger women and of power and prestige by elder women. Based on this new evidence and reinterpretation of social convention
theory, we suggest that interventions aimed at eliminating FGC should target women’s social networks, which are intergenerational, and include both men and women. Our findings support Mackie’s assertion that expectations regarding FGC are interdependent; change must therefore be coordinated among interconnected members of social networks.

Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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The effects of female genital mutilation on the onset of sexual activity and marriage in Guinea.

Arch Sex Behav. 2009 Apr;38(2):178-85. Epub 2007 Oct 18.

The effects of female genital mutilation on the onset of sexual activity and marriage in Guinea.

Van Rossem R, Gage AJ. Vakgroep Sociologie, Universiteit Gent, Korte Meer 3-5, 9000, Ghent, Belgium. ronan.vanrossem@ugent.be


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is almost universal in Guinea and practiced by all ethnic and religious groups and social classes, although the prevalence of the various types of FGM varies by socioeconomic group. A common explanation for FGM practices is that they contribute to the social control over female sexuality and enhance the marriageability of women. These claims were tested using the 1999 Guinea Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) (N = 6753). Event history techniques were used to examine the effect of type of FGM on the age at first sex and the age at first marriage and logistic regression for the effect of FGM on premarital sex. The results showed that the type of FGM had a significant zero-order effect on the age at first marriage and the prevalence of premarital sex, but not on the age at first sex. However, these effects became non-significant once controls for age, religion, ethnicity, education, residence, and wealth were added to the model. Variations in sexual behavior, therefore, were unrelated to type of FGM, but reflected differences in the social characteristics of the participants.

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Sorting out misunderstandings: genital cutting and transnational sisterhood.

Arch Sex Behav. 2004 Feb;33(1):2-3; author reply 3.

Sorting out misunderstandings: genital cutting and transnational sisterhood.

James SM, Robertson CC.

No abstract is available for this letter.

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Male and female viewpoints on female circumcision in Ekpeye, Rivers State, Nigeria.

Afr J Reprod Health. 2002 Dec;6(3):44-52.

Male and female viewpoints on female circumcision in Ekpeye, Rivers State, Nigeria.

Briggs LA.

Department of Human Kinetics, Health and Safety Education, Rivers State College of Education, Port Harcourt.


One hundred and ninety five male and female volunteers across the social strata were interviewed using structured questionnaire. Data were analysed using frequency tables. The study revealed that 74.7% of female respondents were circumcised. They believe that the practice would help prevent sexual promiscuity, curb sexual desires and that it is a custom they cannot do without. Most of the men would not marry an uncircumcised female, while a substantial number of the respondents would like to circumcise their daughters. Community effort to eradicate the practice is very minimal. Based on the findings, it is suggested that communities where female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced as a social norm should be involved in eradication campaigns with support from national and international organisations.

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Interpreting female genital cutting: moving beyond the impasse.

Annu Rev Sex Res. 2000;11:158-90.

Interpreting female genital cutting: moving beyond the impasse.

Leonard L.

Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Room 7142, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. lleonard@jhsph.edu

Female genital cutting has been practiced in many parts of the world but is now most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Particularly in the last half-century, genital cutting ceremonies have attracted significant scientific and media attention. I review some of the most frequently referenced interpretations of female genital cutting and suggest that ways of explaining such practices are limited. I indicate that the study of genital cutting practices is at an impasse–with absolutists arguing that intervention to stop the procedure is required and relativists asserting that outsiders have either no right or no ability to impose such change upon others. Data from fieldwork conducted among the Sara, an ethnic group from the south of Chad, highlight the diversity in genital cutting ceremonies that is not currently represented in the literature or acknowledged in popular discourse. Some of the Sara subgroups have only recently adopted female genital cutting. Young girls have been at the forefront of this movement, and parents, village elders, and religious and traditional leaders have been vehement opponents. The usual explanatory concepts–religion, tradition, patriarchy–are not referenced in participants’ descriptions of their reasons for undergoing the procedure. Strategies for approaching the study of female genital cutting are presented as ways to bring fresh perspectives to the literature and to move discussion of female genital cutting beyond the current impasse.

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