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Studies on FGM in Asia

The following documents are a collection of scientific studies concerning female genital mutilation in the Middle East. A collection of studies about FGM in general and in other countries can be found on FGM Review. Your collaboration is highly welcome. Please do not hesitate to suggest documents we should post here by sending us an email.


 Middle East

Studies for Iran

Elham Hosseini, Osman Mahmoudi: The relationship between honor-based violence and female genital mutilation in Javanrod county, International Journal of Health and Life Sciences, 2018

Zahra Bostanikhalesi, Soheila Pirdadeh Beiranvand, Fariba Ebtekar: Iranian midwives’ knowledge of and attitudes toward female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), Electronic Physician, February 2017

Elham Hosseini, Osman Mahmoudi: Psychosexual Complications of Female Genital Mutilation for Couples: A Comparative Study, Journals of Kermanshe University of Medical Science, 2017

Osman Mahmoudi: Survey on religious views on female genital mutilation: Religious justification and awareness raising in Kermansheh province, Iran, August, 2016

The Hamraz counseling center of Javanrood (Kermansheh, Iran) has conducted a survey among 81 religious leaders and asked them about their opinion on FGM. The results show that FGM is still justified by a majority of mullahs as a religious deed. Only a small minority of 4% believed that it is not an Islamic practice (not Sunna). More than a third (35%) sees it as recommended or Sunna (the right path), but do not call it an obligation. Yet, almost as many (32%) say it must be done.

Susie Latham: The campaign against Female Genital Cutting: empowering women or reinforcing global inequity? In: Ethics and Social Welfare, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2016

Latham explores the history of in the region of Ahwaz in the South-Western Iranian state of Khuzestan. Through talking to older women she found that FGM was common in this region until the 1950s but has been abandoned completely without any official program in place. Furthermore, she found that it was first replaced by a milder form before the practice was stopped entirely. The reason for abandonment seems to have been interference by religious authorities according to her interview partner.

Osman Mahmoudi: Psychosexual Comlications of Female Genital Mutilation for Couples: A Comparative Study, 2015, published 2017 in Journal of Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences

Mahmoudi has interviewed 414 couples in this region with his team. The wives in 206 couples had undergone FGM, while in the comparison group of 208 couples, wives had not undergone FGM. He found that only women suffer from FGM in terms of mental health, sexual functioning and marital satisfaction, but also husbands of women who have undergone FGM have also lower sexual function, lower mental health and lower marital satisfaction than husbands of women who have not undergone FGM.

Maryam Dehghankhalili et. al: Epidemiology, Regional Characteristics, Knowledge, and Attitude Toward Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Southern Iran, Journal for Sexual Medicine 2015;12:1577–1583

In this study, 780 women living in the region of Hormozgan were interviewed on FGM and underwent pelvic examination to determine the type of FGM performed on them. The examination showed that 68 percent of the partcipants were cut. As in other studies, the authors found FGM to be associated with Sunni religion and low educational background. Noteworthy is the result that FGM was found more often among women of Afghan nationality compared with Iranians. This is to date the only mention in literature of any prevalence of FGM among Afghan women. The study also shows interesting results in reference to religion: While FGM is more often performed among Sunni women, there is also a remarkably high prevalence among Shia: 60 Percent of Shia women are cut in this region. Unlike in other studies of the region, religion does not play the overwhelming role as motivation with only 30 percent referring to religious instructions and 40 percent to “making the girl halal for marriage”. Just as important seem false medical believes such as “facilitation of delivery” or “decreasing lower back pain”. It also needs to be noted that this study with its pelvic examination proofes that FGM type II und even III are practiced in Iran, even if rarely.

Kameel Ahmady: A comprehensive research study on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Iran 2015

Ahmady and his team have surveyed 3000 women and 1000 men in Iran over the course of six years. The research shows that FGM is practiced by Sunni minorities in West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Hormozgan. Repeated surveys over 10 years show that the practice is in decline, yet still highly prevalent in some areas. In Western Azerbaijan prevalence has dropped from 39% to 21% today. In Hormozghan 68% affirmed to be mutilated in 2011 while only 60% said so in 2014.

Violations of Girls’ Rights: Child Marriage and FGM in the I.R. Iran, Südwind 2014

This study summarizes the evidence of FGM in the I.R. Iran collected in several studies and a research by the author Rayeheh Mozafarian on the island of Gheshm. The overall prevalence of FGM in several Northern provinces is 50%. There is a direct and meaningful connection between sexual cliché, control of women’s sexual desires and religious beliefs. Mozafarian also collected the opinions of the Shia clergy.

Studies for Iraq

Nazar P Shabila, Abubakir M Saleh and Rojan K Jawad: Women’s perspectives of female genital cutting: Q-methodology, BMC Women’s Health 2014

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): A survey on knowledge, attitudes, and practice among Households in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Unicef, 2014

This first ever KAP study in the MENA region finds that resistance towards FGM has grown in large parts of society: 68% of the interviewees oppose the practice. Mutilation rates are at 60%, but roughly decline in the younger generation.

Female Genital Mutilation in Central and Southern Iraq, 2014

This first independent study on female genital mutilation in central/southern Iraq finds that 25% of the women in these regions were subjected to this practice.

Human Rights Watch: They took me and told me nothing, Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan (2010)

Human Rights Watch interviewed girls and women who had undergone the procedure as well as traditional midwives, healthcare workers, clerics, government officials, and nongovernmental organizations in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in May 2009 for this report. The report includes recommendations to the Kurdish government and parliament, physicians, non-governmental organizations and international donors.

Berivan A. Yasin, Namir G. Al-Tawil, Nazar P. Shabila and Tariq S. Al-Hadithi: Female genital mutilation among Iraqi Kurdish women: a cross-sectional study from Erbil city, September 2013

This cross-sectional study was conducted in the primary health care centers and the Maternity Teaching Hospital in Erbil city, involving 1987 women aged 15–49 years. The self-reported prevalence of female genital mutilation was 70.3%, while it was 58.6% according to clinical examination of the women’s genitalia. Only 30% of the participants were aware about the health consequences of female genital mutilation. More than one third (36.6%) of the women support the practice and 34.5% have intention to mutilate their daughters.

Rozhgar A. Saleem, Nasih Othman, Fattah H. Fattah, Luma Hazim & Berivan Adnan: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan: Description and Associated Factors, August 2013

A cross-sectional survey in Iraqi Kurdistan of females aged up to 20 years using interviews and clinical examination. The survey included 1,508 participants with mean age of 13.5 years. Overall female genital mutilation prevalence was 23%, and the mean age at which it had been performed was 4.6 years. Type I (partial or total removal of the clitoris) comprised 76% of those who had had female genital mutilation. Women aged 16 years and over were more likely to have had female genital mutilation compared to children aged below 6 years. Read also WADI’s press statement on this survey.

WADI: Female Genital Mutilation in Iraq: An Empirical Study in Kirkuk Province 2012

This study on female genital mutilation in the Kirkuk region is the first in Iraq outside the Kurdish region. The FGM rate in Kirkuk Governorate was found to be 38.2% of the female population age 14 and older with the Kurdish women being most affected (65%), followed by Arabs (25%) and Turkmen (12%). Analyzed by religious affiliation, the FGM rates are 40% for the Sunnis, 23% for Shiites and nearly 43% for the Kaka’is.

Female Genital Mutilation in Iraqi Kurdistan, an empirical study by Wadi, 2010

Wadi interviewed 1692 girls and women from 14 years of age and up in the governerates of Arbil, Suleymania and Garmian. 72% of the respondents said they were mutilated, about half referred to it as a religious duty. Results varied in different regions with the lowest prevalence in Arbil of 63% and the highest in Garmyan with 81%. While in Arbil and Suleymania most cases reported type I FGM, in Garmyan type II and type III were most common.

Studies for Israel

R. Belmaker: Female Genital Mutilation: Successful Social Change Exemplified by Israeli Bedouin and Ethiopian Jews, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel, Asian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 4, pp. S1-S2, 2011

In the 1980s six Bedouin tribes in Israel were found to practice FGM. So were Jewish immigrants from Ethopia. In both communities the practice seems to have disappeared according to a follow-up study in 2006.

Suhil Halila, R H Belmaker, Yunis Abu Rabia, Miron Froimovici, Julia Applebaum (Beersheva Mental Health Center, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel): Disappearance of female genital mutilation from the Bedouin population of Southern Israel, 2/2009

Recently, clinicians in Southern Israel perceived that the practice of female genital mutilation had disappeared entirely in the Bedouin population where prevalence of this practice had been found in 1995.

Studies for Kuwait

Chibber R, El-Saleh E, El Harmi J. (Kuwait University/ King Faisal University, Dammam, Kuwait): Female circumcision: obstetrical and psychological sequelae continues unabated in the 21st century (2011)

The study assessed the incidence of female genital mutilation among pregnant women in Kuwait and measured the association with maternal morbidity and birth outcome. Among 4800 pregnant women 38% had been mutilated. Women who were circumcised were more likely to have extended hospital stay. There was a positive association between such women and prolonged labor, cesarean section, post-partum hemorrhage, early neonatal death, and hepatitis C infection. 80% continued to have flashbacks to the FGC event; 58% had a psychiatric disorder (affective disorder); 38% had other anxiety disorders, and 30% had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Studies for Oman

Hoda Thabet, Azza Al Kharousi: Placing Oman on the Map, 2018

Habiba Al Hinai: Female Genital Mutilation in the Sultanate of Oman, January 2014

This study bases on a survey in Muscat finds a self-reported FGM prevalence of 78% among Omani women from different regions. The practice is supported by the majority of participants and according to the answers given it is still practiced in 64% of the participants’ families.

Y.A. Jasser et. al.: Knowledge, Attitudes and practices of secondary-school pupils in Oman: II. Reproductive Health, La Revue de Santé de la Mediteranée Orientale, Vol. 12, No. 1/2, 2006

Studies for Saudi Arabia

Sharifa A. Alsibiani and Abdulrahim A. Rouzi (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia): Sexual function in women with female genital mutilation, Fertility and Sterility, Volume 93, Issue 3 , Pages 722-724, February 2010

For a clinical research about the possible connection between female sexual dysfunction (FSD) and FGM, conducted in 2007-08, 130 women with FGM were interviewed at a Jeddah clinic, a control group of another 130 had not been cut. Among the mutilated women were migrants but also Saudi women. While there were no significant differences between the two groups found in desire, there were statistically significant differences in their scores for arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.

Studies for Syria

Diana Geraci, Jaqueline Muslders: Female Genital Mutilation in Syria? An Inquiry into the existence of FGM in Syria, Pharos, April 2016
The researcher team applied a number of methods to verify or falsify rumors and anecdotal evidence about the existence of FGM in Syria scanning grey literature, asking refugees, midwives, gynecologists and NGOs working in the field. They did not find any evidence that FGM is practiced in Syria today or was in the last 60 years. The value of this research lies also in its discussion of ethnic and relgious correlation: “The possible relation between ethnicity (Kurdish) and law school (Shafi’i) and FGM is too precarious to draw any conclusions for Syria. The Kurdish people in Syria speak a different language than the Kurdish people in Iran and Iraq where FGM is a known practice. And not all communities where Shafi’i law school is dominate practice FGM.”

Studies for the UAE

Wafa Marzouqi: Fatal Tradition: Female Circumcision in the U.A.E. (2011)

As a university student Wafa Marzouqi interviewed 200 men and women in the United Arab Emirates, 34% of the women respondents said they were circumcised – while nearly all the men asked about their attitude opposed the practice.

Studies for Yemen

Al-Khulaidi GA, Nakamura K, Seino K, Kizuki M (2013) Decline of Supportive Attitudes among Husbands toward Female Genital Mutilation and Its Association to Those Practices in Yemen. Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan, Dezember 2013, PLoS ONE 8(12): e83140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083140

The study shows a small, yet relevant drop in FGM practiced in Yemen. Based on the UN and government implemented Domestic Health Surveys the percentage among most-recently-born daughters who received FGM declined from 29.3% in 1997 and 22.4% in 2003. The rate among daughers of women who had undergone FGM declined from 61.9% in 1997 to 56.5% in 2003. The percentages of women who had undergone FGM and who supported the continuation of FGM and of husbands who also supported its continuation decreased from 78.2% and 60.1% in 1997 to 70.9% and 49.5% in 2003, respectively.

Yemen’s Women’s National Committee: Report on Status of Women in Yemen (2008)

The report quotes an “Analytical Study on FGM in Yemen” by Gender Studies and Researches Center at Sana’a University. According to the study FGM is a common practice in 5 of 22 governerates and is widespread in urban areas with 45 percent in Sana’a. (pp. 25f)

UNHCR: Yemen: Report on Female Gentital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC) (2001)

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded 1997 Yemen Demographic Mother and Child Health Survey, 23 percent of Yemeni women have undergone FGM. In the sparsely populated Red Sea and Aden Coastal regions, this percentage rises to 69 percent, compared with 15 percent in the heavily populated highlands and 5 percent in the plateau and desert regions.


South East Asia

Studies for Indonesia

Reyhana Patel, Khalid Roy: Female Genital Cutting in Indonesia – A Field Study, Islamic Relief Canada, 2016

USAID: Female Circumcision in Indonesia, Jakarta 2003, Polulation Council

In this large-scale study 1694 households were surveyed in six rural districts and two cities of six provinces representing the country’s eastern, central and western regions. 86-100% of girls aged 19 reported to be circumcised. More than 90% of the women questioned supported the continuation of FGM. The age when the procedures is carried out ranges from newborn to 9 years. Symbolic forms were found to be more much less common than geenrally belived about FGM in Indonesia: Two thirds of all victims had undergone more than symbolic forms (49% incision and 22% excision of the clitoris).

Male and Female Genital Cutting Among Yogyakartans and Madurans, Center for Population and Policy Studies (CPPS), Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia, 2003

United States Departement of State: Indonesia: Report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Genital Cutting (FGC), 2001

Andrée Feillard & Lies Marcoes: Female Circumcision in Indonesia: To “Islamize” in Ceremony or Secrecy, 1998; in: Archipel 56

Analyzing documents and research starting from the 17th century, the authors explore the question how connected FGM in Indonesia is to Islam and whether it was introduced by Islam or existed before.

Studies for Malaysia

Maznah Dahlui, The Practice of Female Circumcision in Malaysia

This is a cross-sectional study applying mixed qualitative and quantitave methods. In-depth interviews were conducted to develop questionnaire regarding FC, which were used in a population survey on females attending the public health centers. Face to face interviews guided by structural questionnaires were conducted by trained interviewers on the practice of FC among the females and their daughters.

Results showed a total 1,196 females responded to the survey. Sixty two percent of the Muslim females had daughters (671 of 1,086 respondents); with the total number of daughters studied was 1,302.

Dahlui M., Wong YL., Choo WY. Female circumcision (FC) in Malaysia: Medicalization of a religious practice. Int.J.Behav.Med. (2012) 19 (Suppl 1):S7. (ISI-Cited Publication)

This paper presents findings of a study todetermine the extent of FC being conducted by trained HP, latter’sperceptions/beliefs, FC procedures, and impact on FC prevalence.

A Rashid, S Patil, A Valimalar, The Practice Of Female Genital Mutilation Among The Rural Malays In North Malaysia, The Internet Journal of Third World Medicine, Volume 9, Number 1

597 women who experienced FGM were interviewed and they cited religion as the main reason for the practice. It was commonly performed by a traditional practitioner of the art called ‘Mak Bidan’, but the more recent FGM were done in clinics by doctors (P=0.000). All female adults interviewed wanted the practice to go on (P=0.05).

Isa A. Rahman, R. Shuib, and Othman M. Shukri, ‘The practice of female circumcision among Muslims in Kelantan, Malaysia’, Reproductive Health Matters 7 (13): 137–144, 1999.

In the interviews, the majority of women described the procedure as a nicking of the tip ofthe clitoris or prepuce with a pen-knife or similar, only drawing a drop of blood and causing briefpain. Almost all the women believed the practice was customary and a religious requirement and that women’s sexual drives are reduced and men’s sexual pleasure enhanced by it.

William G. Clarence-Smith: Islam and Female Genital Cutting in Southeast Asia: The Weight of the Past, Finish Journal of Ethnicity and Migration, 2008

FGC arrived with Islam, and is not an Animist remnant. Hindu-Buddhist rejection of genital mutilation means that the greatest opposition is found among Java’s syncretic Muslims, or Javanists, some of whom perform a symbolic operation on a turmeric root.

Studies for the Phillipines

Sittinurussamsi A. Calsalin: Female Circumcision among Yakan in Basilan, Philippines, 2008

The 2008 study examines the practice of FGM among the Muslim Yakan population on Basilan in the Southern Phillipines. Interviewees were several men and women in one community, including three women performing FGM and five religious leaders. The interviewer also attended a ceremony. In Basilan, the act is seen as a rite of passage for girls, all persons interviewed stated that it is religiously obligatory. The Yakan use the method of scrabbing the labia majora with an unpointed knife. Bleeding – and that means “cutting” – is not intended. The study poses the question, which harm this symbolic “circumcision” might have.

Studies for Thailand

Claudia Merli: Male and female genital cutting among Southern Thailand’s Muslims: rituals, biomedical practice and local discourses, Culture, Health & Sexuality 2010;12(7):725-738

This paper explores how local people in a province in southern Thailand perceive the practice of male and female genital cutting. In order to understand the importance placed on these practices, a comparison is drawn between the two and also between the male circumcision and the Buddhist ordination of monks as rites of passage. Discourses on the exposure or concealment of male and female bodies, respectively, witness to the relevance of both the local political-historical context and biomedical hegemony to gendered bodies.


Invild Bergom Lunde, Mette Sagbakken, Elise Johansen: Negotiating Female Genital Cutting as a Difficult Characteristic in Kurdish National Identity, Nordic Journal for Migration Reseach, August 2011

The study suggests that FGM is viewed negativly and rejected by a large majority of Norwegian-Kurdish migrants. The practice is associated with backwardness and not matching the image and identity of Kurds as proud, freedom and democracy thriving people.


In general

Unicef: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of dynamics of change, July 2013

Unicef has compiled data taken from Multi Indicator Cluster and Domestic Health Surveys in 29 countries.