Published by: BMC Public Health
Year published: 2023

Background Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), a violation of human rights, remains common in the coastal areas of Yemen.

Objective This study aimed to identify the prevalence of FGM/C and its risk factors among the youngest daughters in families in the Yemeni coastal areas, as well as the knowledge and attitudes of the local population towards FGM/C.

Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 646 women and 345 men from six districts in three Yemeni coastal governorates between July and September 2020 using a structured questionnaire. Categorical data were described by proportion. The chi-square test was used to identify factors associated with FGM/C. All factors with a p-value of ≤0.05 were included in the multivariate analysis. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated in the multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results The prevalence of FGM/C in Yemeni coastal areas was 89.0% (95% CI 84.0%-92.5%) among women and 79.8% (95% CI 73.5%-84.8%) among the youngest daughters in the surveyed families. Nearly two-thirds of women and half of the men recorded a poor knowledge level about the harms of FGM/C. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of both women and men would like to continue the practice of FGM/C. Among women, significant predictors of FGM/C among youngest daughters included advanced maternal age of ≥40 years (AOR 7.16, 95% CI 2.73–18.76), mother’s desire to continue FGM/C (AOR 8.07, 95% CI 3.64–17.89), and living in a rural area (AOR 3.95, 95% CI 1.51–10.30). Daughters of mothers who did not undergo FGM/C were more protected from FGM/C than those whose mothers had undergone FGM/C (AOR 0.04, 95% CI 0.02–0.09). Among men, the father’s desire to continue FGM/C (AOR 15.10, 95% CI 6.06–37.58) was significantly associated with FGM/C among the youngest daughters.

Conclusion This study confirmed that FGM/C is still prevalent among communities in Yemeni coastal areas. Thus, community-based interventions with a focus on the rural population are vital to improving the awareness of various harms of FGM/C.