Published by Global Public Health
Year published 2018

ABSTRACT Campaigns to end female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) have been ongoing for decades. Many countries have adopted legislation that criminalises the practice and programmatic interventions aim to reduce support for it by presenting it as a violation of human rights and by highlighting associated health risks. We used Demographic and Health Survey data from 19 countries to measure national-level trends in the prevalence of FGM/C, reported support for the continuation of the practice, and the belief that it is a religious requirement among men and women. Levels and patterns in each of these outcomes vary markedly between countries. More than half of men and women born in recent years in Guinea and Mali support the continuation of the practice and believe that it is a religious requirement. Support for the continuation of FGM/C has fallen in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania, but has risen in Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The belief that FGM/C is a religious requirement is common, particularly in countries with high prevalence of cutting. Changes in support for cutting mirror those in the belief that it is a religious requirement.