OBJECTIVES To study the prevalence, type, social correlates and attitudes towards female genital cutting (FGC) among urban women in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; and to examine the association between FGC and gynaecological problems, reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and HIV.
METHODS In 1999, 379 women attending reproductive health care clinics were interviewed and underwent pelvic examination. Specimens for RTI/HIV diagnosis were taken.
RESULTS Seventeen per cent had undergone FGC, mostly clitoridectomy (97%). Female genital cutting prevalence was significantly lower among educated, Christian and Chagga women. Women aged ≥35 were twice as likely to be cut as those < 25 years. Seventy-six per cent of those who had undergone FGC intend not to perform the procedure on their daughters. Age < 25 years (P < 0.0001) and low parity (P < 0.01) were predictors of that intention. There was no association between RTIs, HIV or hepatitis B and FGC.
CONCLUSION FGC is still fairly common but there is evidence of a change of attitude towards the practice, especially among young women. The opportunity to educate women who attend reproductive health care facilities on FGC should be taken.