A new study finds that a campaign in Sudan to change the social norms around female genital cutting (FGM) is a promising way to protect girls from this harmful practice.
Dr. W. Douglas Evans, a professor of prevention and community health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and his colleagues studied the Saleema Initiative in Sudan, a public health campaign to raise awareness about FGM and to change the way the public thinks about this practice.
When a social norm such as FGM is in place, families and individuals engage in the practice because they view it as a common and expected of them, Dr. Evans said. The Saleema Initative aims to change that norm by providing messages aimed at getting people in Sudan to view girls who have not been circumcised as whole, healthy and intact.
“This study demonstrated that Saleema’s social marketing strategy is effective in changing the belief that FGM is an accepted practice in Sudan,” Dr. Evans said. “Viewing FGM as outside of the social norm is the first step towards eliminating the practice.”
The study was published online March 12 in the journal PLOS One, and the research was funded by UNICEF.Friday Letter Submission