Country: Kuwait

Population: 3.369 million

Estimated prevalence aged 15-49: Unknown

This country page has taken all of its information from a single study, the only study of its kind in Kuwait regarding FGC – ‘Female circumcision: obstetrical and psychological sequelae continues unabated in the 21st century ‘The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, June 2011; 24(6): 833–836, Rachana Chibber, Eyad El-Saleh & Jihad el Harmi. The study was conducted between 2001 and 2004, and looked at 4,800 women in their first trimester of pregnancy. These women were attending the University for the ante-natal clinic and were asked to be a part of the study. They were representative of the general female population in Kuwait as the majority of women have their ante-natal care at hospitals. A detailed examination was undertaken on each woman to determine if/what type of FGC they had and the extent of cutting. The mean age of participants was 23, with the range 15 to 46 years.

This study states that the prevalence rate amongst these women was 38% amongst married women, which equates to 1,842 of the women in their study.

Type practised:

The study found that types I and III were the most common forms of FGC amongst their sample group.

Legal status:

FGC is legal in Kuwait.

History of FGC:

The study states that FGC is most commonly carried out on young girls aged 4 to 12 years, with physicians performing about 12% and the rest performed by local barbers or ‘mammas’. FGC in Kuwait is usually undertaken in non-sterile conditions and without anaesthesia or pain medication other than local salves.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

This study is the only piece of evidence that FGC is recognised as an active practice in Kuwait and recognised as a problem. There does not seem to be any current efforts to abandon the practice.

Ongoing challenges:

The study said several physical post-FGC complications were discovered amongst some girls and women in the study. These include premature and/or obstructed labour, foetal distress, delivery by caesarean, post-partum haemorrhage and kidney infections; resulting in 40% of women having to undertake an extended maternal hospital stay. In addition, FGC is closely associated with hepatitis C in Kuwait due to the unsterile conditions it is performed in. Moreover, more than 80% of women said they experienced traumatic flashbacks, feelings of helplessness and anxiety at the thought of pain.

Women that travelled from remote villages who had travelled long hours whilst in labour experienced the most complications, with all six neonatal deaths in the study occurring amongst these women. This is a challenge as many other women in rural areas will be undergoing similar issues to the women examined in the study.

The study claims that the prevalence rate in Kuwait may be much higher, however due to the fear of (violent) repercussions; they rejected partaking in this study and will also not speak out against FGC in the future. This limits the potential for FGC to be abandoned because without women speaking out and recognising FGC as a form of child and human rights abuse, the practice will continue.

Additional information:

In the majority of practising groups in Kuwait the women are mostly well-educated, financially well-endowed with strong ‘norms on behaviour and morality’ imposed by tradition. This is at odds with the often perceived image of uneducated girls undergoing FGC.

Major languages:

Modern Standard Arabic (official language)

Kuwaiti Arabic (colloquial language)

English (widely understood as a business language)

Major religions:

Sunni Muslim – 60-70%

Shias – 30-40%

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