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Trends in attitudes towards female genital mutilation among ever-married Egyptian women, evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys, 1995-2014: Paths of change
Authors: R. Van Rossem, D. Meekers, and A.J. Gage
Source: International Journal for Equity in Health, 15(1): Article number 31; doi: 10.1186/s12939-016-0324-x
Topic(s): Female genital cutting (FGC)
Country: Africa
Published: FEB 2016
Abstract: Background: Over the past few decades Egypt has attempted to limit and control female genital mutilation (FGM). However, these efforts have not succeeded in curbing the practice, which maintains wide popular support and is firmly embedded in local traditions and structures. An attitudinal change is therefore a prerequisite for any successful campaign against FGM. This paper charts the evolution of beliefs that the practice of FGM in Egypt should be stopped. Method: This paper examines trends in opposition to FGM among ever-married women in Egypt between 1995 and 2014, using six waves of the Egypt Demographic and Health Surveys. Results: The results show that the percentage of ever-married women who think the practice of FGM should be stopped rose from 13.9 % in 1995 to 31.3 % in 2014. The central question here is whether this trend exists because new cohorts of young married women are more modern and more opposed to the practice, or because opposition to FGM has spread through multiple segments of society. Our results show that back in 1995 opposition to FGM was concentrated in two groups: Non-circumcised women, and wealthy, highly educated urban women. Between 1995 and 2014 opposition to FGM increased considerably among other groups of women. Conclusion: Our results show that the observed increases in opposition to FGM are not caused by younger cohorts of married women who oppose FGM, nor by the expansion of the groups most likely to oppose FGM. Rather, the results imply that the belief that FGM should be stopped spread to all walks of life, although poorly educated rural women remain least likely to oppose FGM. Keywords: Attitudes; Egypt; Female genital mutilation