Dispelling the myths and beliefs toward female genital cutting of woman: assessing general outpatient services at a tertiary health institution in Enugu state, Nigeria

East Afr J Public Health. 2010 Mar;7(1):64-7. doi: 10.4314/eajph.v7i1.64684.


Context: The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) has continued because it is deeply entrenched in tradition and culture especially in developing countries where the victims are often its strongest proponents. This study aimed at using accurate information to dispel the traditional myths and beliefs about FGM among woman.

Methods: Using a before and after intervention evaluation research design, interviewer administered questionnaires were administered to a sample of 100 women drawn by systematic sampling from the General Outpatient Department of University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. Information's on their knowledge, attitude and behaviour towards FGM were elicited pre-and-post intervention.

Results: Pre-intervention, knowledge of the respondents on the true meaning of FGM was 54% and that of the 6 complications enlisted on average was 22.2%. Seventy (70.0%) believed that FCM is good and should be continued based mainly on culture and tradition (85.7%). Among the 29(29.0%) respondents against FGM, 26(89.7%) and 24(82.8%) said it increases risk of HIV/AIDS and pregnancy complications respectively. Respondents displayed a high negative and stigmatizing attitude toward the uncircumcised women. Seventy-four (74.0%) said they are promiscuous. Additionally, 49% said they are shameful, 14% cursed/outcast while 66% would not recommend them for marriage. Post-intervention, 85% of the respondents now understood full meaning of FGM and 71.3% on the average knew the complications. While only 11% now support FGM, 83% were against the practice. The stigmatizing attitudes held against uncircumcised women decreased significantly from baseline to post-intervention as follows: promiscuous 74% to 22%, shameful 49% to 12%, outcast/cursed 14% to 2%, and not good for marriage from 66% to 19%. The differences in the baseline and post-intervention data on knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of the respondents toward FGM were statistically significant (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Educational intervention programme has been successful used to impact knowledge, change beliefs and negative attitudes of women toward FGM.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Female / adverse effects
  • Circumcision, Female / classification
  • Circumcision, Female / ethnology*
  • Circumcision, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria
  • Outpatients
  • Social Environment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult