Archives Blog Original research

Growing rejection of female genital cutting among women of reproductive age in Amhara, Ethiopia

Cult Health Sex. 2009;11(4):443-452

Growing rejection of female genital cutting among women of reproductive age in Amhara, Ethiopia

Rahlenbeck SI, Mekonnen W.

a Consultant in Public Health, Berlin, Germany b School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Addis Abeba University, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia


Data on female genital cutting are presented from 1942 women aged 15–49 years in Amhara region, Ethiopia, 2005. Reportedly 69% (1333/1942) had undergone the procedure. Rates showed a secular decline, decreasing from 77% in women aged 45–49 years old to 59% in those age 15–24 years. Of women with daughters, 64% had at least one circumcised daughter. Again, prevalence declined from 78% in daughters of mothers aged 45–49 years to 45% in those aged 15–24 years. In logistic regression, controlling for maternal FGC status, age and religion, maternal education was a strong predictor of having a circumcised daughter. Fifty‐four percent of respondents disapproved of the continuation of FGC. In logistic regression controlling for covariates, education and self‐empowerment were factors associated with rejecting FGC. Women who had ever attended a school had a 4‐fold increase in the odds of disapproving the practice than those who never did and respondents who scored high on empowerment indices had a 1.5‐fold increase in the odds to favour discontinuation compared to women scoring low. Future efforts to eliminate this harmful practice should be particularly directed to illiterate populations in rural areas. Efforts strengthening women’s empowerment will accelerate the progress of these programmes.

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Archives Blog Review

Study of a custom in Somalia: the circumcision of girls

Med Trop (Mars). 1995;55(3):238-42.

[Study of a custom in Somalia: the circumcision of girls].

[Article in French]


Service de Pédiatric, l’Hôpital Principal d’Instruction des Armées Tunisiennes, Tunis, Tunisie.


Female circumcision and infibulation is a common practice in parts of Africa. The present report describes the results of a study conducted in Somalia during Operation “Restore Hope”. Using pre-defined questionnaire, a total of 300 women and 70 men were interviewed in order to evaluate the prevalence of this practice in Somalia, the procedures used, and the psychologic implications for the population. Fully 100% of the women interviewed had been circumcized and 80% had undergone infibulation. In most cases the procedure had been performed before the age of 10 years. Infection, hemorrhage and double episiotomy were reported by 60%, 20%, and 10% of responders respectively. All but 10 responders expressed support for the practice and many had already had the procedure performed in their children. The findings of this study demonstrate that the practice remains widespread in Somalia where a large proportion of the population is favorable despite the fearful childhood memories of many women.

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Archives Blog Original research

Female circumcision in Somalia: anthropological traits

Anthropol Anz. 1985 Dec; 43(4):311-26

Female circumcision in Somalia: anthropological traits

Grassivaro Gallo P, Abdisamed M.


In 1981, 2497 subjects (comprising women and girls) were interviewed in Somalia, mostly in Mogadish, about female circumcision. In this study there are presented the principle cultural trends which are connected with the custom and which have arisen from the research. Even today, the practice of female circumcision is universal in Somalia; the percentage of circumcised women was 99.3%. Infibulation is the commonest type of circumcision used (75.7%). The age of circumcision varies from birth to 15; the average being 7.5. The type of circumcision does not seem to be influenced by some environmental variables (e.g. birth place of parents or place of circumcision), it is primarily determined by the population of the individual region. Infibulation is accepted to the greatest extent by the pastoral populations of the middle/northern regions, principally in Ogaden and in the 4 Somalian regions on which it borders: Togdheer, Nugal, Muddug, Galgadud. In the southern regions (Upper, Middle, Lower Giuba) amongst rural populations or populations with a cattle/cultivation economy, there are also attenuated types of circumcision: sunna and clitoridectomia (20 to 30%). The evolution of the practice was studied by data of the subjects, of their mothers and of their daughters. From this analysis there was no indication toward non-circumcision. There is, however, a movement towards the attenuated forms of circumcision. The fundamental key to such an attenuated operation for a child seems to be the presence of the same attenuation in previous generations.

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Archives Original research

Female genital mutilation: prevalence, perceptions and effect on women’s health in Kersa district of Ethiopia.

Int J Womens Health. 2012;4:45-54. Epub 2012 Feb 13.
Female genital mutilation: prevalence, perceptions and effect on women´s health in Kersa district of Ethiopia
Yirga WS, Kassa NA, Gebremichael MW, Aro AR
BACKGROUND: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is nontherapeutic surgical modification of the female genitalia. It is an ancient tradition in large parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, especially in the eastern part of the country. This study aimed to identify the prevalence, perceptions, perpetuators, reasons for conducting FGM, and factors associated with this practice with regard to women’s health.
METHODS: Community-based cross-sectional house-to-house interviews were conducted during 2008 among 858 females of reproductive age (15-49 years), in Kersa district, East Hararge, Oromia region, Ethiopia. Proportions and Chi-square tests were used to describe the data and logistic regression was used to describe statistical associations. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
RESULTS: FGM was reported to be known by 327 (38.5%) of the interviewees. The majority (n = 249, 76.1%) reported that local healers were the main performers of FGM, and 258 (78.9%) respondents stated that the clitoris was the part removed during circumcision. The main reason for the practice of FGM was reduction of female sexual hyperactivity (reported by 198 women [60.3%]). Circumcision of daughters was reported by 288 (88.1%) respondents, and this showed a statistically significant association with the Christian religion (P = 0.003), illiteracy (P = 0.01), and Amhara ethnicity (P = 0.012). The majority of the respondents (792, 92.3%) were themselves circumcised and 68.8% did not know of any health-related problems associated with FGM.
CONCLUSION: In spite of FGM being a common practice in the study area, only one third of the respondents stated that they knew about it. Local healers were the main performers of FGM. Some of the women knew about the negative reproductive health effects of FGM and some had also experienced these themselves. However, only a few had tried to stop the practice and the majority had taken no steps to do so. This may be attributable to the fear of becoming alienated from the cultural system and fear of isolation.
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