The effects of female genital mutilation on the onset of sexual activity and marriage in Guinea.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is almost universal in Guinea and practiced by all ethnic and religious groups and social classes, although the prevalence of the various types of FGM varies by socioeconomic group. A common explanation for FGM practices is that they contribute to the social control over female sexuality and enhance the marriageability of women. These claims were tested using the 1999 Guinea Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) (N = 6753). Event history techniques were used to examine the effect of type of FGM on the age at first sex and the age at first marriage and logistic regression for the effect of FGM on premarital sex. The results showed that the type of FGM had a significant zero-order effect on the age at first marriage and the prevalence of premarital sex, but not on the age at first sex. However, these effects became non-significant once controls for age, religion, ethnicity, education, residence, and wealth were added to the model. Variations in sexual behavior, therefore, were unrelated to type of FGM, but reflected differences in the social characteristics of the participants.