Int J Womens Health. 2015 Feb 20;7:259-69. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S78664. eCollection 2015.
Awareness and predictors of female genital mutilation/cutting among young health advocates
Abolfotouh SM, Ebrahim AZ, Abolfotouh MA
The act of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is considered internationally as a violent act against girls and women and a violation of their human rights. This study sought to assess the awareness and predictors of FGM/C in young Egyptian health advocates. A cross-sectional study of 600 medical students from a total of 2,500 members of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)-Egypt, across all Egyptian medical schools, was conducted using a previously validated online Google survey. The overall prevalence of circumcision was 14.7/100 female students, with a significantly higher prevalence in students from rural areas (25%) than in non-rural areas (10.8%, P=0.001), and in those residing in Upper (southern) Egypt (20.6%) than in Lower (northern) Egypt (8.7%, P=0.003). The students’ mean percentage score for knowledge about the negative health consequences of FGM/C was 53.50±29.07, reflecting a modest level of knowledge; only 30.5% had a good level of knowledge. The mean percentage score for the overall attitude toward discontinuation of the practice of FGM/C was 76.29±17.93, reflecting a neutral attitude; 58.7% had a favorable attitude/norms toward discontinuation of the practice. Of circumcised students, approximately one-half (46.8%) were unwilling to have their daughters circumcised, and 60% reported no harm from being circumcised. After controlling for confounders, a negative attitude toward FGM/C was significantly (P<0.001 in all cases) associated with male sex, residency in Upper Egypt, rural origin, previous circumcision, and the preclinical medical phase of education. The low level of knowledge among even future health professions in our study suggests that communication, rather than passive learning, is needed to convey the potentially negative consequences of FGM/C and to drive a change in attitude toward discontinuation of this harmful practice.