Published by BMC Women's Health
Year published 2022

Background: Despite the observed decrease in female genital mutilation (FGM) prevalence, it is increasingly being medicalized. We examined the attitudes of both parents towards the FGM practice in Egypt, and highlighted the effect of fathers’ decision making and attitudes towards FGM and violence on FGM practice and medicalization.

Methods: This study is a secondary analysis of Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS), 2015. The 2015 EHIS involved a systematic random selection of a subsample of 614 Shiakhas/villages out of the 884 shiakhas/villages that had been chosen as Primary Sampling Units in the 2014 EDHS. Descriptive statistics of the study sample and parents’ attitudes was performed. Three indices were created describing; mothers’ and fathers’ attitudes towards FGM, decision making and rejecting violence against women. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were conducted to identify predictors of FGM practice and medicalization.

Results: A considerable proportion of EHIS girls; 16.4% were circumcised and 36% of girls were expected to be circumcised. More than two thirds of circumcised girls were circumcised by a physician; namely 67% and 13.5% by nurses. The majority of mothers (88.4%) and fathers (84.8%) believed that FGM practice should continue. They believed that FGM is a religious obligation (72.3% of mothers and 73% of fathers). Parents believed that husbands prefer a circumcised wife (81.1% and 82.5% of mothers and fathers respectively). Being in the poorest wealth quintile (OR = 4.2, p < 0.001) and living in rural Upper Egypt (OR =4.55, p < 0.001) were the predictors of FGM practice, while medicalization was more likely among the rich and educated parents. Parents’ attitudes supporting FGM was significantly associated with its practice (OR =1.97, p < 0.001, for mothers and OR = 1.27, p < 0.001, for fathers). Rejecting violence against women was associated with less likelihood of practicing FGM (OR = 0.89, p < 0.05) and more likeli- hood of its medicalization (OR = 1.25, p < 0.01).

Conclusion: More attention should be paid to enforce the laws against FGM practice by health care providers. Raising the community awareness on girls’ human rights and elimination of FGM practice which is a severe form of violence against women and gender inequality in sexual rights should be prioritized with targeting men in FGM programs.

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