Understanding the forces underpinning female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) is a necessary first step to prevent the continuation of a practice that is associated with health complications and human rights violations. To this end, a systematic review of 21 studies was conducted. Based on this review, the authors reveal six key factors that underpin FGM/C: cultural tradition, sexual morals, marriageability, religion, health benefits, and male sexual enjoyment. There were four key factors perceived to hinder FGM/C: health consequences, it is not a religious requirement, it is illegal, and the host society discourse rejects FGM/C. The results show that FGM/C appears to be a tradition in transition.