Medicalization of female genital cutting (i.e., having the procedure done by a medical professional) has increased in Egypt in recent years. The relationship between a woman's social position and the decision to use a trained health professional to perform genital cutting is not well understood.
Data from the 2005, 2008 and 2014 Egypt Demographic Health Surveys on 11,455 women whose daughter had undergone female genital cutting were used to examine relationships between mothers’ social position and medicalization. Logistic regression models were used to identify associations between measures of social position and the decision to have genital cutting done by a trained provider.
Seventy-nine percent of women had had their daughter cut by a trained health professional. The odds of medicalization were greater among women who had a primary education (odds ratio, 1.2) or a secondary or higher education (1.8) rather than no education; who lived in wealthier households rather than in the poorest ones (1.4–2.6); and who shared decision making on large household purchases rather than had no say in such decisions (1.2). In addition, working for pay and the magnitude of the age difference between women and their husband were negatively associated with medicalization (0.99 and 0.9, respectively).
A woman's social position in Egypt is associated with medicalization of her daughter's genital cutting. Research is needed to explore the social meaning attributed to medicalized genital cutting, which may inform campaigns that could decrease the prevalence of the procedure.
Nina Van Eekert is a doctoral candidate, and Sarah Van de Velde is assistant professor—both in the Department of Sociology, Research Centre for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium. Els Leye is assistant professor, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Belgium.