Intended for healthcare professionals


Female genital mutilation/cutting

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 24 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5603
  1. Henrietta L Moore, William Wyse chair of social anthropology
  1. 1Division of Social Anthropology, Cambridge CB2 3RF, UK
  1. Hlm10{at}

Targeted interventions can work, but more remains to be done to change people’s behaviour

In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to intensify global efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting. As the recent Unicef report argues, evidence played a major part in driving this resolution through.1 But what is the character of the available evidence, and what is known about how to accelerate change to bring about the desired result? Although the tone of the report is resolutely upbeat, the reality on the ground seems more uncertain and fragile.

The report provides the largest ever number of nationally representative surveys from all 29 countries where female genital mutilation/cutting is concentrated, as well as providing comparative data for age cohorts. This allows an assessment not only of how these practices are changing, but also the progress being made in the battle to eliminate them. However, the report also notes that even with the current evidence for declining prevalence …

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