Factors Linked to Female Genital Mutilation Practice Among Women Living In Alungu Village of Mandera County, Kenya



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Background: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful traditional practice with severe health complications, deeply rooted in many sub-Saharan African countries. In Kenya, the prevalence of FGM/C is 15% in women aged between 15 and 49 years. The Kenyan Somalis practice FGM/C with a prevalence above 90%. FGM/C practice continues to persist in Alungu village, Mandera County in the North Eastern of Kenya despite efforts by anti-FGM programs. However, the underlying factors behind FGM practice in the area have not been explored. Objective: To assess factors contributing to female genital mutilation practice among women living in Alungu village of Mandera County, Kenya. Methods and materials: This study utilized a descriptive cross-sectional design. The study population was women of reproductive age (from 18 to 49 years) who resided in Alungu village in Mandera County, Kenya. A study sample of 98 women was selected using simple random sampling technique. Data was collected using a researcher-administered questionnaire and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Results: Most of the respondents were aged 35 – 44 (45.8%), married (100%), had no formal education (74.7%) and had no formal employment (89.2%). All participants agreed that traditional beliefs, customs and rite of passage to womanhood contributed to FGM, 90.4% of the participants acknowledged that FGM is a symbol of ethnic identity and inclusivity. Factors affecting prevention of and response to FGM were low involvement of women in anti-FGM programs (91.6%); support for FGM by local leaders and elders (100%); failure by authorities to take action against those perpetuating FGM (100%); indifference to FGM practice continuation among local religious and political leaders (96.4%) and poor enforcement of existing laws against FGM (100%). Conclusion: A wide range of socio-cultural factors did contribute to FGM practice among women living in Alungu village, Mandera County.