What are the attitudes and opinions of immigrant women towards Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)? – A Narrative Review

Elsie Acheampong studied on the Master of Public Health (MPH) programme at ScHARR, 2012-2013. She decided to do the course purely out of her passion for health care in general and to equip her with the knowledge and expertise that would be instrumental for her career. Elsie is currently working within the field of sexual health in the NHS. She is planning to undertake a doctorate degree in maternal and reproductive health or health inequalities in the near future.

The title of Elsie's MPH dissertation project was 'What are the attitudes and opinions of immigrant women towards Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)? – A Narrative Review'


Background:  Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure undertaken on women and young girls which has no known benefits. However it still occurs due to the belief that it prepares a girl for marriage, maintains marital fidelity and also is a religious requirement. In recent decades, the procedure has become of global public health concern due to the increased migration of women from countries where the procedure is highly prevalent to new host countries where it is not the norm. This has critical implications for medical and healthcare professionals, especially in delivering culturally-sensitive health care and services that take into consideration the physical, sexual and psycho-social consequences of the procedure.

Aim: To explore the attitudes and opinions of immigrant women towards FGM.

Methods: Searches were undertaken in three main electronic databases namely Medline, ASSIA and Web of Knowledge in order to extract available information on the attitudes and opinions of immigrant women in relation to FGM. Data was retrieved using a pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Only articles published in English between 1993 and 2013 and also articles that looked at the opinions and attitudes of immigrant women were included.

Findings: The narrative review demonstrated that for the majority of immigrant women living in Western countries, they had generally negative attitudes and opinions of FGM. These attitudes and opinions had been influenced by myriad of factors. These include acculturation, the laws and legislation against FGM and also the impact of FGM on the health of women. The opinions also shared by the majority of these immigrant women was that FGM needed to be abandoned and also that laws and legislation should be made stricter for the benefit of their children.

Recommendations: The recommendations for research and practice that have consequently been put forward based on the findings retrieved are; to investigate the impact of UK anti-FGM laws on immigrants and also to strengthen the knowledge and skill base of medical and healthcare professionals.

Click on this link to read the full details about Elsie's research.