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Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2008 Sep;13(3):289-97. doi: 10.1080/13625180802075174.

The impact of health education on attitudes towards female genital mutilation (FGM) in a rural Nigerian community.

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Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria.



To determine the level of practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the impact of a health education intervention in Shao community.


Intervention study using a multistage sampling technique. The instrument was a pre-tested, structured questionnaire. The survey was supplemented by an in-depth interview of the traditional excisors.


Most respondents (88.0%) cited traditional excisors as operators of the procedure, while 7.8% mentioned health workers. Factors found to be statistically significantly associated with the practice of FGM are age, gender and educational status of respondents (p<0.05). The age at which FGM is usually performed was put at under one year old by 60.3% of respondents. All respondents cited type II FGM as the type practised in the community. Most (88.0%) of the female respondents were excised. A greater proportion of men than women did not want the practice of FGM stopped in the pre-intervention stage; however, there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of males who did not want the practice of FGM stopped in the post-intervention stage. Also, there was a statistically significant increase in the proportion of respondents who had no intention to excise future female children in the post-intervention stage (p<0.05). Legislation, female literacy and empowerment, educating men and provision of alternative vocation for excisors were means suggested by respondents for stopping the practice.


The health education intervention had a positive impact on the attitude of respondents towards FGM. However, for sustainable behavioural changes that will lead to elimination of FGM practice, we recommend placing FGM elimination efforts within a comprehensive development strategy and the larger context of reproductive health and gender education in Nigeria.

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