Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been recognised as a major reproductive health problem and a dehumanising practice that has resisted change especially in developing countries. The study reviews the current knowledge and practice of FGM in Southeast Nigeria. This is a questionnaire based descriptive study involving women of reproductive age in Abakaliki, South east Nigeria. A semi-structured questionnaire was distributed to 320 women by simple random sampling. Information sought included the socio-demographic characteristics, and personal information on FGM with regards to knowledge and practice. Two hundred and sixty (81.3%) were appropriate for analysis. The mean age of the respondents was 28.6 years ± 5.4 SD. Most had formal education, with tertiary education contributing 60.8%. A high percentage was aware of FGM, and the problem associated with it was 91 and 72%, respectively. Half of the respondents (49.6%) were genitally mutilated while almost the same number (47.7%) affirmed that FGM is still practised today. Eighty – two percent do not support FGM but were not doing anything about it and 36% were not aware of any problem associated with FGM. The prevalence rate of FGM of 50% is high. Though most did not support the practice, nothing has been done to change the practice. Serious advocacy, government support and legislation are needed to curb this serious health problem as significant proportions are still not aware of the problems of FGM.
Key words: Female genital mutilation, prevalence rate, knowledge, practice, Abakaliki, Southeast Nigeria.
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