Research studies on Male Involvement in Ending FGM

During the discussion on Male Involvement in Ending FGM, members of the community of practice shared some research studies that was previously done  to answer the following questions: 
  • What do men think of FGM in your community?
  • Do men’s opinions translate into taking actions against FGM? 
  • How can we improve communication between men and women on the subject of FGM? 

The Study titled: Female genital mutilation (FGM) Awareness and perceptions of Somali men in the Helsinki region, Finland by Abdirizak Hassan Mohamed & Johanna Latvala (2020) showed that participants were generally aware on the consequences of FGM, mainly those directly related to health and were considerate of their spouses’ FGM-related health issues. They also expressed that FGM caused problems to fulfiment of sexual and reproductive health.

  • Most participants know that FGM is against the law in Finland  
  • Participants regard FGM as a cultural, not religious practice  
  • Participants’ attitudes on FGM have changed significantly after moving to Finland when they received information about the adverse consequences of FGM 
  • Young participants born in Finland do not have a lot of knowledge of FGM  
  • Nearly all participants strictly oppose performing any types of FGM  
  • Some participants have ambiguous views about what religion says about sunna type of FGM 
  • Participants do not regard FGM as a prerequisite of marriage 
  • Participants born and raised in Finland prefer marrying an uncut woman 
  • Participants make decisions concerning FGM together with their wives 
  • Participants think that men have a role in tackling FGM by protecting their own daughters from FGM 
  • Participants’ extended family members do not generally have a say in the parents’ decision concerning FGM  
  • Many participants raise awareness of the detrimental consequences of FGM among their relatives in Somalia  
  • Many participants think that men can take an active role in the society in eradicating FGM by starting a discussion, advocating, and campaigning 

The second study received from a CoP member is The Men Speak Out project study titled ‘‘Men have a role to play but they don’t play it’’ with the participation of O’Neill S., Dubourg. D, Florquin S., Bos M., Zewolde S., Richard F. aimed to increase knowledge on the men’s role in the perpetuation of FGC by addressing 4 key issues:

  1. Men’s understanding of FGC as a health risk and human rights violatioN
  2. Communication between women and men about the practice of FGC
  3. Men’s opinions about FGM
  4. Male involvement in the decision-making process to end the practice

The objective of the quantitative part of the research was to estimate the proportion of men in favour of the continuation of FGC in Europe as compared to in their country of origin. The aim was therefore to find out whether migration and residence in Europe affects men’s attitudes towards FGC.

In total 60 in-depth interviews were carried out across Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. For the quantitative study a total of In total 1618 men between 15 and 59 years of age were interviewed. The qualitative research found that commonly mentioned reasons for practising were :

  • Religion (although the practice is not mentioned in the Koran)
  • Control of desire
  • The preservation of virginity
  • Marriageability,
  • Cleanliness and aesthetics as well as

The qualitative research showed that younger participants were more uncertain of whether the practice was a religious obligation than older participants who had resided in Europe for longer. The latter suggested that FGC was commonly believed to be a religious requirement in their communities but that this belief was erroneous. The belief that FGC is a religious requirement is an important factor influencing attitudes regarding the continuation of the practice. Men who think that FGC is required by religion are 15 times more likely to think the practice should continue. The quantitative and qualitative data show that migration influences men’s attitudes regarding the continuation of the practice.

Participants views on how to stop the practice:

Across all three countries male and female research participants suggested that communication between men and women was crucial for an abandonment of the practice. It is important that husband and wife speak to each other about the practice and discuss the decision not to have their daughters cut.  

  • Having access to adequate information would make the task easier and that many of those who supported the practice simply “did not know“. 
  • Involving different kinds of leaders, such religious leaders, opinion leaders and community leaders in the abandonment movement was beneficial.
  • The information new migrants and asylum seekers receive upon arrival in the Netherlands has a strong impact on their attitudes towards the practice. Most men and women said that having more detailed knowledge of the consequences had changed their minds. 
  • Information provision for African migrants should no longer remain the responsibility of NGOs and associations. Receiving such information through a governmental institution and public service may be of benefit and is likely to improve knowledge of the practice and reduce the willingness to continue.

The study was done by GAMS Belgique in collaboration with Forward UK and HIMILO foundation in the Netherlands within the phrase of a broader project which also included training of peer educators and awareness-raising.

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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