Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) comprises all procedures that involve the total or partial elimination of the external genitalia or any injury to the female genital organ for non-medical purposes. More than 200 million females have undergone the procedure globally, with a prevalence of 89.6% in Sierra Leone. Education is acknowledged as a fundamental strategy to end FGM/C. This study aims to assess women's educational attainment and how this impacts their views on whether FGM/C should be discontinued in Sierra Leone.
We used data from the 2013 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey. A total of 15,228 women were included in the study. We carried out a descriptive analysis, followed by Binary Logistic Regression analyses. We presented the results of the Binary Logistic Regression as Crude Odds Ratios (COR) and Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Most of the women with formal education (65.5%) and 15.6% of those without formal education indicated that FGM/C should be discontinued. Similarly, 35% of those aged 15–19 indicated that FGM/C should be discontinued. Women with a higher education level had a higher likelihood of reporting that FGM/C should be discontinued [AOR 4.02; CI 3.00–5.41]. Christian women [AOR 1.72; CI 1.44–2.04], those who reported that FGM/C is not required by religion [AOR 8.68; CI 7.29–10.34], wealthier women [AOR 1.37; CI 1.03–1.83] and those residing in the western part of Sierra Leone [AOR 1.61; CI 1.16–2.23] were more likely to state that FGM/C should be discontinued. In contrast, women in union [AOR 0.75; CI 0.62–0.91], circumcised women [AOR 0.41; CI 0.33–0.52], residents of the northern region [AOR 0.63; CI 0.46–0.85] and women aged 45–49 [AOR 0.66; CI 0.48–0.89] were less likely to report that FGM/C should be discontinued in Sierra Leone.
This study supports the argument that education is crucial to end FGM/C. Age, religion and religious support for FGM/C, marital status, wealth status, region, place of residence, mothers' experience of FGM/C and having a daughter at home are key influences on the discontinuation of FGM/C in Sierra Leone. The study demonstrates the need to pay critical attention to uneducated women, older women and women who have been circumcised to help Sierra Leone end FGM/C and increase its prospects of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) three and five.
Bibliographical noteThe authors are thankful to the DHS Program for permitting us access to the data used for the study. We also thank Mr. Ebenezer Agbaglo of the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, for copy-editing this document prior to publication.
- Female genital mutilation/cutting
- Reproductive health
- Sierra Leone