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Transforming social norms to end FGM in the EU: an evaluation of the REPLACE Approach

Barrett, Hazel Rose, Brown, Katherine, Alhassan, Yussif ORCID: and Leye, Els (2020) 'Transforming social norms to end FGM in the EU: an evaluation of the REPLACE Approach'. Reproductive Health, Vol 17, Issue 40.

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Background: Despite numerous campaigns and interventions to end female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice
persists across the world, including the European Union (EU). Previous interventions have focused mainly on
awareness raising and legislation aimed at criminalizing the practice. Limited evidence exists on the effectiveness of
interventions due in part to the lack of systematic evaluation of projects. This paper presents an evaluation of the
REPLACE Approach, which is a new methodology for tackling FGM based on community-based behaviour change
and intervention evaluation.
Methods: We developed, trialed and evaluated the REPLACE Approach through extensive engagement with eight
FGM affected African diaspora communities in five EU countries. We employed qualitative and quantitative tools to
obtain data to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of the Approach. These included communitybased participatory action research, questionnaires and community readiness assessments. The research took place
between 2010 and 2016.
Results: Findings suggested that the Approach has the capability for building the capacities of FGM affected
communities to overturn social norms that perpetuate the practice. We observed that community-based action
research is a useful methodology for collecting data in FGM intervention settings as it allows for effective community
engagement to identify, educate and motivate influential community members to challenge the practice, as well as
obtaining useful information on the beliefs and norms that shape the practice. We also found that community
readiness assessments, pre and post intervention, were useful for tailoring interventions appropriately and for
evaluating changes in attitudes and behaviour that may have resulted from the interventions.
Conclusion: This evaluation has demonstrated that the REPLACE Approach has the potential, over time, to bring about
changes in norms and attitudes associated with FGM. Its strengths lay in the engagement with influential community
members, in building the capacity and motivation of community members to undertake change, in recognising
contextual differences in the barriers and enablers of FGM practice and in tailoring interventions to local community
readiness to change, and then evaluating interventions to re-inform implementation. The next steps would therefore
be to implement the Approach over a longer time frame to assess if it results in measurable change in behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 309 Women's health
WP Gynecology > Anatomy. Diseases. Injuries > WP 101 Anatomy
WP Gynecology > WP 20 Research (General)
WP Gynecology > Anatomy. Diseases. Injuries > WP 400 General works
Faculty: Department: Education
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Stacy Murtagh
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2020 10:59
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2020 10:59


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