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Among practicing communities, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a highly sensitive and emotionally charged issue, and open discussion is often considered taboo. Not only may it be difficult to motivate people to discuss the topic, but the validity of their responses may be questionable. These factors make research on FGM/C challenging and hence the need for careful consideration of research methodologies. There is a need for proper documentation of the strengths and limitations of the various data-collection methodologies to assist in generating reliable data for programmatic efforts toward FGM/C abandonment. This working paper describes a study undertaken to highlight methodological opportunities and challenges in measuring the prevalence, drivers, and dynamics of FGM/C. The objectives were to: assess the advantages and challenges of having healthcare providers physically examine and report on women’s FGM/C status; understand the advantages and challenges of self-reporting as a method of data collection for FGM/C; explore the validity of responses from parents or guardians reporting their daughter’s FGM/C status; identify the preferred approaches in measuring FGM/C prevalence; and assess participants’ views about the World Health Organization classification of the different types of FGM/C.






Evidence to End FGM/C: Research to Help Girls and Women Thrive