Objectives: Despite well-documented negative consequences, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) continues to be widely practiced. In this systematic review, we investigated women's views of why FGM/C exists and persists. Methods: A meta-ethnolography approach was used in this systematic review of qualitative research. Results: Twenty-seven studies were included in this review and they represented the views and experiences of 823 women. FGM/C was considered a ‘rite of passage’ which was enforced to curb the expression of their sexuality and maintain social and gender norms within its communities. Nevertheless, attitudes towards FGM/C were changing among migrant populations. Conclusions: Creating community awareness projects, enforcing strict laws coupled with increasing health professional involvement may reduce the incidence of FGM/C.