29 June 2020
Owing to migration, female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) has become a growing concern in host countries in which FGM/C is not familiar. There is a need for reliable estimates of FGM/C prevalence to inform medical and public health policy. We aimed to advance methodology for estimating the prevalence of FGM/C in diaspora by determining the prevalence of FGM/C among women giving birth in the Netherlands.
Two methods were applied to estimate the prevalence of FGM/C in women giving birth: (I) direct estimation of FGM/C was performed through a nationwide survey of all midwifery practices in the Netherlands and (II) the extrapolation model was adopted for indirect estimation of FGM/C, by applying population-based-survey data on FGM/C in country of origin to migrant women who gave birth in 2018 in the Netherlands.
A nationwide survey among primary care midwifery practices that provided care for 57.5% of all deliveries in 2018 in the Netherlands, reported 523 cases of FGM/C, constituting FGM/C prevalence of 0.54%. The indirect estimation of FGM/C in an extrapolation-model resulted in an estimated prevalence of 1.55%. Possible reasons for the difference in FGM/C prevalence between direct- and indirect estimation include that the midwives were not being able to recognize, record or classify FGM/C, referral to an obstetrician before assessing FGM/C status of women and selective responding to the survey. Also, migrants might differ from people in their country of origin in terms of acculturation toward discontinuation of the practice. This may have contributed to the higher indirect-estimation of FGM/C compared to direct estimation of FGM/C.
The current study has provided insight into direct estimation of FGM/C through a survey of midwifery practices in the Netherlands. Evidence based on midwifery practices data can be regarded as a minimum benchmark for actual prevalence among the subpopulation of women who gave birth in a given year.