Lead Author: POWELL Richard A.
Co-Author(s): YUSSUF Mohamed
Published by: Population Council
Year published: 2018

While the majority of affected countries have adopted legal frameworks prohibiting female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM / C) these measures have been varyingly effective in preventing the practice or significantly accelerating its total abandonment. One possible reason is the inadequacy of the theoretical paradigms framing FGM / C interventions that neglect the collectively held social norms underpinning the practice’s continuation. Social norms theory contends the perpetuation of harmful practices (such as FGM / C) and the creation of beneficial new ones may be attributable to social motivations involving an entire community’s beliefs and actions rather than simply those of individuals and their families. In Africa where focus is growing on social norms as a theoretical underpinning for preventative interventions FGM / C is most common in the western eastern and northeastern countries. In Somalia FGM / C prevalence is nearly universal at 98 percent. Despite calls for rigorous research on FGM / C abandonment for the Sustainable Development Goals there is limited peer-reviewed literature with primary data on FGM / C for Somalia and Somaliland. This qualitative study therefore sought to explore: 1. Views and experiences of married and unmarried men and women on FGM / C and potential changes in its practice (in terms of age cut severity and medicalisation); 2. Individual family and societal factors contributing to any changes or continuation of FGM / C; 3. The knowledge views and experiences of health care workers who offer FGM / C services (including corrective services as well as potentially medicalised versions) and their role as change agents rather than providers and; 4. How health care systems’ capacities can be strengthened for management and prevention.