Although considered a violation of human rights, female genital mutilation (FGM) is a commonly accepted practice in Nigeria in the ritual and sociocultural context of the population. In recent years, there have been strong policy actions by Nigerian legislature to curb this practice. Despite that, FGM continues to be a widespread phenomenon. In this study, we aimed to report on the prevalence of FGM, women’s attitude towards this practice, and its association with selected sociodemographic factors.
Methods: Nigeria Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 2003, 2008 and 2013 provided the data for this study. The participants were married women aged between 15 and 49 years. Owing to the clustered nature of the data, a complex survey plan was created to account for cluster effects and sampling weights. Data were analysed using bivariate and multivariate regression techniques.
Results: Overall prevalence of FGM was 38.9% (95% CI = 36.4–40.1), and that among their daughters was 17.4% (95% CI = 15.3–19.7). There has been a substantial increase in the prevalence of FGM in 2013 compared to its 2003 level. Respondents who had undergone circumcision were more likely to have their daughters circumcised. In all three surveys, almost all of the circumcisions were performed by traditional practitioners. In the regression analysis, respondent’s age, area and region of residency, religious affiliation, educational status, and household wealth appeared to be significant predictors of FGM.
Conclusion: In Nigeria, FGM remains a widely prevalent phenomenon with an increasing number of women experiencing this practice. Important regional and socioeconomic disparities were observed in the prevalence which merit urgent policy attention.