Magnitude of and driving factors for female genital cutting in schoolgirls in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: a crosssectional study
Shay, Thewodros Zewde
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Background. Female genital cutting (FGC) is practised throughout the world, and is common in many Asian and African countries. Although FGC in Ethiopia has decreased, the practice is still very widespread. Methods. A cross-sectional study design with an analytical component was used to study girls attending randomly sampled primary schools in Addis Ababa between August and June 2008. A total of 407 girls, selected from four primary schools, and their respective families were recruited. Data were collected through self-administered and open-ended questionnaires and analysed using bivariate and multivariate models. Results. In this group of schoolgirls, 26.0% had undergone FGC at a median age of 4 years. FGC had most commonly been performed at age 1 - 5 years, when 50.9% of the total group had been circumcised. Of the girls attending government schools, 36.6% had undergone FGC. The majority of the procedures had been performed by traditional circumcisers (62.3%), followed by health workers (22.6%). The decision to subject the girl to FGC was most frequently made by mothers (38.7% of the FGC group), the remainder of the decisions being made by fathers (24.5%), both parents (22.6%) and relatives (14.2%). There was a significantly higher prevalence of FGC among girls attending government schools, girls of Guraghe ethnicity, and girls whose mothers had no knowledge about the harm of FGC. A smaller proportion of girls living with both parents than of those living with relatives had undergone FGC. Conclusions. FGC is prevalent in primary schoolgirls in the capital city of Ethiopia, despite improved availability of health information. This situation underscores the need to reinforce the national law against FGC. Creation of awareness should be focused on parents of Guraghe ethnicity and on government schools. Parental education should be promoted, and empowerment of women is required to fight FGC.