Published by: Central African Journal of Public Health
Year published: 2021

Introduction: Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting or circumcision, threatens the health and well-being of millions of girls, women, and their children around the world. In Senegal, FGM practices persist despite numerous interventions. This study aims to analyze the determinants of FGM in Senegal.

Methods: This article uses data from the 2018 Senegal Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), a nationally representative survey of 9413 women aged 15-49 years. In the descriptive analysis, variables were presented in terms of frequency and percentage of data. The significance level was set at 5, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used. Variables with p values less than 0.25 in the bivariate analysis were selected for multivariate analysis. The dependent variable was a composite variable generated from 3 DHS variables that described the types of post-FGM genital lesions that exist in women. The analysis was performed using STATA/SE 17.

Results: The prevalence of FGM is 17.14%. Eleven-point fifty-two percent (11.52%) or 999 women believe that FGM is a religiously recommended practice. Ninety-nine percent (993) of these women were Muslim (p=0.0017). Fifteen-point thirty-nine percent (15.39%) or 1,334 women think it is a practice that should continue to be practiced and 80.59% (or 6,988 women) think it should be stopped. The protective factors for the occurrence of FGM were female empowerment (high level of education of the woman (primary ajOR=0.64 [0.50-0.83] and secondary ajOR=0.43 [0.32, 0.57]) and the fact that the head of the family was a woman ajOR (0.75 [0.59-0.97]); belonging to the central region of Senegal (Diourbel, Kaolack, Thies, Louga and Fatcick) and Christian religion (ajOr=0.05 [0.02-0.13]). The risk factors for female genital mutilation in Senegal were ethnicity and belonging to certain regions in the northeast and southeast of Senegal (Tambacounda, Matam, Kedougou).

Conclusion: This study showed that FGM practices are still persistent in Senegal. This study underlined that the empowerment of women would allow the fight against FGM. Health interventions should be multisectoral, involving the education sectors with a strong investment in girls' education and retention.