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Table 5 Quotations from participants in focus group discussions illustrating changes in knowledge and attitudes towards FGM following the implementation of REPLACE interventions. (Source: REPLACE fieldwork, 2010–2015)

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

Increased knowledge of the health impacts of FGM:
‘… it came as a surprise to discover that the consequence of this practice [FGM] were very severe, particularly types II and III. We saw in an explicit way [with drawings and photos they had asked the doctor who had conducted the session to show them] and understood the harm that this practice can bring about. For us, the health problems provoked by FGM are enough reason to abandon it.’ (Gambian/Senegalese woman, Spain)
‘I have learnt that the FGM is not harmless as it has negative effects for women, above all as regards health … .this is one of the most important lessons I have learnt and also that this practice does not provide any benefits for women.’ (Gambian/Senegalese woman, Spain)
‘… prior to participation in the activities I had practically never heard about this issue and that anyway I considered that the FGM was a ‘normal’ issue and that it should be carried out. But now, knowing what I now know about this issue, particularly regarding the consequences of the FGM on the woman’s health, I am not in favour of carrying it out.’ (Gambian/Senegalese man, Spain)
‘My journey started years ago but this gave me the skills needed. I was not sure at the start but after coming here I felt empowered to talk. I can give advice and evidence why FGM is harmful …’ (Sudanese woman, UK)
Increased knowledge and changing attitudes concerning religion and FGM:
‘Most people in this community think that the Prophet want us to cut our daughters. But this is not true. That Hadith is weak. Allah says in the Koran that we should not do anything that harms us.’ (Guinea Bissau man, Portugal)
‘It is indeed true that FGM is not a requirement of Islam as we were told … I have consulted on it, and answered that the ‘Hadith’ that was said to state cutting a little is OK, is false. (Gambian/Senegalese woman, Spain)
‘… religion does not make this practice mandatory: although mostly we have known it in advance, the information and the data they have provided with, has confirmed our views.’ (Gambian/Senegalese woman, Spain)
‘I liked that they told us about Islam and FGM. They showed clearly that it is not an Islamic practice.’ (Somali woman, Netherlands)
‘I think they should lecture the men about this topic, that it is not an Islamic practice. Often the men are head of the house, especially when it comes to religion. If he convinces his wife or sisters or mother that it is not something from our religion, I think they would stop believing it is a good thing.’ (Somali woman, Netherlands)
‘It was interesting to see that some of the women [female Koranic school teachers] were pro-FGM and changed so much that they are now active against it. That is a great thing.’ (Somali woman, Netherlands)
Increasing knowledge and changing attitudes concerning the legal situation in the EU
‘Here in the Netherlands yes, first of all it is not allowed. And people do not want to lose their children and go to jail. I wonder if they would think the same if they were in Somalia. There they have the opportunity to do it, so maybe then they don’t think it is wrong. I don’t know how many have really changed their mind.’ (Somali woman, Netherlands).
“I am more confident and I know about the UK law and safeguarding issues …” (Sudanese woman, UK)