Journal Article

Analysing normative influences on the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting among 0–14 years old girls in Senegal: A spatial bayesian hierarchical regression approach

Background
Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful traditional practice affecting the health and rights of women and girls. This has raised global attention on the implementation of strategies to eliminate the practice in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A recent study on the trends of FGM/C among Senegalese women (aged 15–49) which examined how individual- and community-level factors affected the practice, found significant regional variations in the practice. However, the dynamics of the practice among girls (0–14 years old) is not fully understood. This paper attempts to fill this knowledge gap by investigating normative influences in the persistence of the practice among Senegalese girls, identify and map ‘hotspots’.

Methods
We do so by using a class of Bayesian hierarchical geospatial modelling approach implemented in R statistical software (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria) using R2BayesX package. We employed Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) techniques for full Bayesian inference, while model fit and complexity assessment utilised deviance information criterion (DIC).

Results
We found that a girl’s probability of cutting was higher if her mother was cut, supported FGM/C continuation or believed that the practice was a religious obligation. In addition, living in rural areas and being born to a mother from Diola, Mandingue, Soninke or Poular ethnic group increased a girl’s likelihood of being cut. The hotspots identified included Matam, Tambacounda and Kolda regions.

Conclusions
Our findings offer a clearer picture of the dynamics of FGM/C practice among Senegalese girls and prove useful in informing evidence-based intervention policies designed to achieve the abandonment of the practice in Senegal.