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A qualitative study examining UK female genital mutilation health campaigns from the perspective of affected communities

Salmon, D. ORCID: 0000-0003-2562-2116, Olander, E. K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7792-9895 & Abzhaparova, A. (2020). A qualitative study examining UK female genital mutilation health campaigns from the perspective of affected communities. Public Health, 187, pp. 84-88. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2020.07.038


Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a worldwide problem associated with severe health risks. In the UK, preventative public health campaigns have been developed to eradicate FGM. The aim of the present study was to elicit the views about FGM public health campaigns from the perspective of a UK Somali community.

Study design
Three focus groups and one interview were conducted with 16 community members.

Using posters and leaflets focused on UK FGM prevention, photo-elicitation was used to encourage participants to discuss the usefulness and implications for national public health messages aimed at eradicating FGM. Data were subjected to inductive thematic analysis.

Participants were positive about the aims of the campaigns presented within the research, believing such campaigns were necessary and increased awareness of FGM. However, participants felt the campaigns also carried risks of enhancing stereotypes in terms of ethnicity, gender and religion. For example, some images were perceived to suggest that FGM was only relevant to Sub-Saharan women, although it is also prevalent in other populations. Some fathers reported feeling unfairly targeted in campaigns that focused on the role of mothers in protecting daughters from FGM. Participants were also concerned that some poster images may suggest that FGM was associated with Islam and perceived as a religious issue, rather than a cultural one. Fears were identified that this could lead to stigmatisation and hostility towards those affected.

The research findings suggested that actively working with affected communities to develop messaging that counters negative stereotyping and associated hostility should be a priority.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Female genital mutilation; Female genital cutting; Stigma; Poster; Public health; Qualitative
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of FInal FGM paper revision for CRO.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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