Prevalence, knowledge, attitude and practices of female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) among United Arab Emirates population

Shamsa Al Awar, Moamar Al-Jefout, Nawal Osman, Zuhur Balayah, Nourah Al Kindi, Teodora Ucenic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a common practice in developing countries, including the UAE, and presents a major health problem. Methods: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 1035 participants: 831 (80.3%) females and 204 (19.7%) males. Results: The number of women with FGM/C was 344; hence the prevalence of FGM/C in our study was 41.4%. Type I was the most prevalent (62.8%), followed by Type II (16.6%) and Type III (5%). FGM/C was less prevalent among educated and employed women (p-value < 0.001) and was mostly performed during infancy and childhood. Among the participants, 13.7% reported that their daughters had undergone FGM/C, with Type I being the most common, and 25% of them planned to have their future daughters undergo Type I FGM/C. While FGM/C was mostly performed by ritual circumcisers (74.4%), in 25 and 36.7% of the cases, it was performed by health professionals and in the clinic setting, respectively. About 69% of the participants considered FGM/C a custom, 72.8% were against the practice, and only 17.4% believed in its legality. Complications occurred in 30% of cases. The type of FGM/C was associated with the occurrence of complications: bleeding, difficulties in sexual life, and delivery-related problems (p-value < 0.05). One-fifth of the male participants expressed plans to circumcise future daughters (p-value < 0.001). Conclusion: FGM/C remains a prevalent practice in the UAE and has a negative association with the general health of Emirati women. The lack of clear legislation to criminalize this practice is a problem to be addressed. In this context, national-level educational and legal strategies should be a priority.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalBMC Women's Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 22 2020


  • Attitude
  • Female circumcision
  • Female genital mutilation/cutting
  • Prevalence
  • Social impact
  • UAE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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