Percent of the population favorable to the continuation of FGC

Percent of the population favorable to the continuation of FGC

Percent of the population favorable to the continuation of FGC

“Continuation“ refers to perpetuation of the practice of female genital cutting (FGC). “Favorable“ is operationally defined by items such as those listed below.

This indicator is calculated as:

(# of respondents favorable to the continuation of FGC/ Total # of surveyed ) x 100

Data Requirement(s):

Response to questions on survey

Large-scale representative survey (e.g., DHS)

To-date, MEASURE DHS has collected data on FGC in 17 African countries and Yemen.  To collect data for this indicator in countries that have not had DHS surveys on FGC, a special survey must be conducted.

The question “do you think that female genital cutting should be continued, or should it be discontinued?“ (from the MEASURE DHS module on FGC) provides a useful indicator of public acceptance of FGC in a given country.  Evaluators can ask it of all respondents, male or female, in a survey, and can present the responses separately for men and women. A similar question, ap­propriate for women with daughters, is “do you intend to have any of your daughters cut?” or “have any of your daughters been cut?“

Responses to these items from representative surveys of the population serve two purposes: (1) they indicate the beliefs that public information campaigns must ad­dress the elimination of this practice, and (2) they serve as “markers of progress“ if data are available over two or more surveys.

Any effort to abolish the practice must take into account beliefs that are widely held by members of the target population. The DHS module on FGC allows for the measurement of specific beliefs that support the continuation of FGC. Other sources cite the same beliefs in slightly different terms. For evaluation purposes, one can track changes in attitude regarding FGC through population-based surveys. An illustrative set of beliefs favorable to the continuation of FGC includes the following:

  • Men prefer women who are circumcised (bet­ter marriage prospects);
  • Islam/religion requires female circumcision;
  • FGC is a good tradition/part of our cul­tural heritage;
  • FGC is important to avoid the wrath of the ancestors;
  • FGC gives greater pleasure to the husband;
  • FGC preserves virginity;
  • FGC prevents adultery; and
  • FGC is an important part of gender iden­tity for women.

women’s status, female genital cutting (FGC), safe motherhood (SM), adolescent, violence

FGC is a traditional practice whose basis is to control female sexuality and to make a woman “marriageable.“ Although FGC violates the human rights of women and girls, women may be as likely as men to support the continuation of the practice as long as they believe the myths perpetuated to support the practice (e.g., that uncut women are “unclean,“ cannot give birth, and are promiscuous). Many anti-FGC groups are now trying to reach men, women, boys, and girls with information that counteracts the myths with facts, exposes the health risks, and fosters an under­standing of gender equity and human rights.

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