American University of Beirut

The good news is...

October 18, 2022​​​

​Study shows female genital mutilation/cutting is decreasing worldwide.

Researchers at the Center for the Study of Population and Health at AUB’s Faculty of Health Sciences undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available studies on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and found that it is decreasing worldwide but more needs to be done to abolish the practice in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What is FGM/C?
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (WHO)

It is mostly performed on infants and young girls due to a variety of cultural, social, and religious customs and is believed to curb sexual urges and maintain virginity.

FGM/C can cause a variety of health problems, including complications during pregnancy and delivery, infertility, menstrual difficulties, urinary problems, severe pain, infection, mental health problems, and even death. FGM/C also carries an economic burden of $1.2 billion per year.

What can be done?
Further studies are needed to determine the reasons for the decline in certain countries so that these interventions and policies can be enacted in other countries. Multi-factorial interventions and policies that work with communities that practice FGM/C are key.

More about the study:
The UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for the elimination of FGM/C by 2030 (SDG 5.3). Although progress is being made in many countries, much more must be done to reach this goal. This meta-analysis was undertaken to support efforts to understand the global burden of FGM/C and inform adequate prevention and intervention efforts, and local and international policies. 

Authors (alphabetical order): 
Sawsan Abdulrahim (associate professor)
Chaza Akik (assistant research professor)
Christelle Akl (PhD student researcher) 
Zeinab El-Dirani (research assistant) 
Leen Farouki (undergraduate student researcher)
Stephen J. McCall (assistant research professor)

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