Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Examining the Association between Female Genital Mutilation and Early Sexual Initiation among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Version 1 : Received: 29 August 2020 / Approved: 30 August 2020 / Online: 30 August 2020 (17:28:36 CEST)

How to cite: Ahinkorah, B.O.; Hagan Jr., J.E.; Budu, E.; Agbaglo, E.; Adu, C.; Ameyaw, E.K.; Peprah, P.; Agbadi, P.; Mensah, G.Y.; Seidu, A. Examining the Association between Female Genital Mutilation and Early Sexual Initiation among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Preprints 2020, 2020080679 Ahinkorah, B.O.; Hagan Jr., J.E.; Budu, E.; Agbaglo, E.; Adu, C.; Ameyaw, E.K.; Peprah, P.; Agbadi, P.; Mensah, G.Y.; Seidu, A. Examining the Association between Female Genital Mutilation and Early Sexual Initiation among Adolescent Girls and Young Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Preprints 2020, 2020080679

Abstract

Despite several attempts by governments and non-governmental organizations to eliminate female genital mutilation or cutting, it is puzzling that this traditional procedure is widely practiced today in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Scholarly arguments on the influence of female genital mutilation on sexual behavior up until now remain inconclusive. The current study sought to examine the association between female genital mutilation and early sexual initiation among girls and young women (AGYW) in SSA. Data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of 12 SSA countries were combined. A total of 30,089 AGYW (15-24 years) who had ever had sex and had complete information on all the variables of interest were considered. The outcome variable for the study was early sexual initiation. The study employed multilevel logistic regression for the data analysis, with reported odds ratio and associated 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The overall prevalence of female genital mutilation among AGYW was 49.9%, with the highest and lowest prevalence in Guinea (95.8%) and Togo (3.3%) respectively. The prevalence of early sexual initiation was 42.4%, with the highest and lowest prevalence in Niger (59.9%) and Burkina Faso (30.6%) respectively. AGYW who had not experienced female genital mutilation were less likely to have early sexual initiation [OR= 0.74, CI= 0.70-0.78], compared to those who had experienced female genital mutilation, after controlling for significant covariates. The likelihood of early sexual initiation was high among AGYW aged 15-19 [OR=2.38, CI=2.26-2.51] but low among AGYW with secondary education [AOR=0.58, CI=0.54-0.63], those who had never married [OR=0.68, CI=0.60-0.78], those in households with richest wealth quintile [OR=0.64, CI=0.57-0.72], those who were exposed to mass media [OR=0.88, CI=0.83-0.93], and those working [OR=0.91, CI=0.87-0.96]. Not undergoing female genital mutilation in the midst of socio-economic factors (e.g., education level, household wealth) could limit AGYW from early sexual debut. These findings underscore the need for effective campaign and programs (e.g., educational programs, entrepreneurial training, micro-finance schemes) against the practice of female genital mutilation. Policy interventions (e.g., “schooling for the girl-child” initiatives) that might delay early sexual initiation among adolescent girls and young women in the midst of identified socio-economic factors should be developed.

Subject Areas

Adolescent girls; Female genital mutilation/cutting; Global health; Sexual initiation; Sexual and reproductive health; Young women

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