Date of Conferral





Public Health


Amany Refaat


The custom of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a traditional practice inimical to women's health with profound implications. There is a gap in the literature on the lived experiences of women who have undergone FGM/C and their statuses within their communities. Guided by the social cognitive theory and the ecological model, this qualitative study aimed at explicating the attitudes and perceptions of women in the northwest region of Nigeria towards the practice of FGM/C, to illuminate how the women view themselves in their society and the inspiration for the continued practice of FGM/C. Interview and observation data were gathered from 10 women, ages 18 to 59 who had undergone FGM/C. Participants were voluntarily recruited using purposeful snowball sampling techniques. Data were analyzed through inductive coding techniques to extract and compare recurrent themes and patterns. Four major themes emerged: (a) traditional beliefs; (b) pain, happy, and approval; (c) pain, distress, and disapproval; and (e) ignorance of the law. Results indicated that ethnocultural beliefs, religion, and customs had a strong influence on the decision to undergo FGM/C. Women who viewed themselves as heroes of the practice strongly supported the continuation of FGM/C. The women who viewed themselves as victims of FGM/C disapproved the practice as an instrument to instill fear and control. The potential for social change could improve the knowledge of public health professionals, international organizations, federal, state, and local governments to influence policies on decreasing FGM/C without undermining the culture of communities regardless of any personal belief that sees FGM/C as detrimental to women.