Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences

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Support for the continuation of female genital mutilation among adolescents in Jimma Zone, Southwest Ethiopia

AG Mariam, A Hailemariam, T Belachew, KW Michael, D Lindstrom


BACKGROUND: Female genital mutilation/cutting is a harmful practice which has effect on female’s wellbeing. However, the practice has continued to prevail in many cultures. Research on the social determinants of the practice and its continuation are scarce. The objective of this study was to assess whether attitude towards the continuation of female genital mutilation is predicted by gender role perception among adolescents in
Jimma zone.
METHODS: This study used data collected in the first round of Jimma Longitudinal Family Survey of Youth. A total of 2084 adolescents were identified from 3700 households and one adolescent were interviewed from each household using structured questionnaire. Data on the socio-demographic characteristics, religiosity, access to electronic media, perception of gender role, attitude towards continuation of Female circumcision was collected. Descriptive and multivariate statistical techniques were used to analyze the data using SPSS for windows version 16.0. Statically tests were performed at the level of significance of 5%.
RESULTS: Of the 2084 adolescents, 1146 (55.0%) were aged 12 -14 years, 1025 (49.2%) females and 749 (35.9%) from rural areas. The majority, 1289 (61.9%) were Muslims and 1351 (64.8%) Oromo. Five hundred seventy three (28.1%) of the male youth did not agree to the importance of marrying a circumcised girl. However, 149 (13.8%) and 258 (12.7%) agreed that it is very important and important, to marry a circumcised
girl, respectively. On multivariate logistic regression analysis, perception of gender role, sex, place of residence, highest education in the household and religion remained to be important predictors of attitude towards the continuation of female genital mutilation after adjustment for age and ethnicity. Adolescents who had low gender role perception were 1.4 times more likely to have a positive attitude towards the continuation of the female genital mutilation (OR: 95%CI, 1.41: 1.02-1.94). Female adolescents were 36% less likely to support (P<0.01) the continuation of FGM compared to their male counter parts (OR: 0.64; 95%CI: 0.49, 0.83). Compared to urban youth, those who live in semi urban and rural areas were 1.46 and 1.52 times more likely to have a positive attitude towards the continuation of the FGM practice, respectively(P<0.05). Similarly the Probability of having positive attitude towards the continuation of the FGM practice decreased steadily as the
highest educational level in the household increased.
CONCLUSION: One-fifth of the youth support the continuation of the practice. Low gender roles perception, being from the rural areas, household’s lower level of education and being Muslim were strong predictors of the attitude towards the continuation of female genital mutilation. Improving perception of adolescents towards gender roles through effective behavior change communication, and involving religious leaders in the campaign against the practice of female genital mutilation is recommended as a useful strategy to ban the practice.
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