Knowledge to change lives

Wassu-UAB Foundation has published two new articles as a result of the scientific research conducted in The Gambia, allowing a deep understanding of the reality of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). The survey "Female genital mutilation/cutting in The Gambia: long-term health consequences and complications during delivery and for the newborn", a comparative study between women who have undergone FGM/C and women who have not, highlights for the first time the magnitude of consequences during delivery and for the newborn, associated with FGM/C in The Gambia. Women with FGM/C are four times more likely to suffer complications during delivery, and the newborn is four times more likely to have health complications if the parturient has undergone FGM/C. These results are even more significant taking into consideration that The Gambia has the highest maternal mortality rates in all West Africa: among 100,000 women who gave birth, 360 die.

The second study dives into an area so far barely explored concerning FGM/C: the perception of men. "Female Genital Mutilation: the secret world of women as seen by men" reveals that ethnic identity, more than religion, is the decisive shaping factor on how men conceive and value FGM/C, and that the greater support towards the practice is found among traditionally practicing groups. A substantial proportion of men intend to have it performed on their daughters, although reporting a low involvement in the decision making process, with very few taking alone the final decision. Only a minority is aware of FGM/C health consequences, but those who understand its negative impact on the health and well-being of girls and women, are quite willing to play a role on its prevention. These results confirm the potential of the strategy for the prevention of FGM/C developed by the Wassu-UAB Foundation, where knowledge on FGM/C health consequences is transferred, empowering people to take informed decisions about their lives and the lives of their daughters.