FGM/C is rooted in gender inequality and is used as a form of social control over women. While the practice and the decision of putting a girl through FGM/C may be taken by the girl’s mother or another female relative, there is a need to contextualise these decisions within societies that are strongly patriarchal. Underpinning early marriage, early pregnancy, lack of girls education, violence against women and girls and few economic assets are social norms that value men and boys above women and girls. It may therefore be more useful to look at FGM/C as an additional manifestation along the lines of the other indicators of social control, rather than to attempt to assess its correlation to each indicator individually.
The literature currently has little to say of the different links between these harmful practices. It does, suggest, however, that targeting the root causes of gender discrimination and changing the norms that control women and their sexuality, offers a chance for a broader change of other harmful traditional practices including FGM/C, child marriage, women’s lack of economic empowerment and other forms of gender based violence.
Although FGM/C has circulated on the international agenda for decades, gaps remain in the literature to fully understand this issue and the links between different harmful traditional practices. Further research is necessary to understand how social norms can effectively be changed.