Sexual and reproductive health

Female genital mutilation and other harmful practices

Prevalence of FGM

WHO estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation. Estimates based on the most recent prevalence data indicate that 91,5 million girls and women above 9 years old in Africa are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. There are an estimated 3 million girls in Africa at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.

Types I, II and III female genital mutilation have been documented in 28 countries in Africa and in a few countries in Asia and the Middle East (see Annex 3). Some forms of female genital mutilation have also been reported from other countries, including among certain ethnic groups in Central and South America. Growing migration has increased the number of girls and women living outside their country of origin who have undergone female genital mutilation (Yoder et al., 2004) or who may be at risk of being subjected to the practice.

The prevalence of female genital mutilation has been estimated from large-scale, national surveys asking women aged 15–49 years if they have themselves been cut. The prevalence varies considerably, both between and within regions and countries (see map), with ethnicity as the most decisive factor.

In seven countries the national prevalence is almost universal, (more than 85%); four countries have high prevalence (60–85%); medium prevalence (30–40%) is found in seven countries, and low prevalence, ranging from 0.6% to 28.2%, is found in the remaining nine countries. However, national averages hide the often marked variation in prevalence in different parts of most countries.

The type of procedure performed also varies, mainly with ethnicity. Current estimates indicate that around 90% of female genital mutilation cases include Types I or II and cases where girls’ genitals were "nicked" but no flesh removed (Type IV), and about 10% are Type III (Yoder and Khan, 2007).

Prevalence of female genital mutilation in Africa and Yemen (women aged 15 - 49)

fgm prevalence map small
Source: MICS, DHS and other national surveys, 1997-2006. Map developed by UNICEF, 2007

Countries where female genital mutilation has been documented

Listed below are countries in which female genital mutilation of Types I, II, III and "nicking" Type IV has been documented as a traditional practice. Prevalence is derived from national survey data (the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) published by Macro, or the Multiple Cluster Indicator Surveys (MICS), published by UNICEF).

Country Year Estimated prevalence of female genital mutilation in girls and women
15 – 49 years (%)
Benin 2006 12.9
Burkina Faso 2006 72.5
Cameroon 2004 1.4
Central African Republic 2008 25.7
Chad 2004 44.9
Côte d’Ivoire 2006 36.4
Djibouti 2006 93.1
Egypt 2008 91.1
Eritrea 2002 88.7
Ethiopia  2005 74.3
Gambia 2005/6 78.3
Ghana 2006 3.8
Guinea 2005 95.6
Guinea-Bissau 2006 44.5
Kenya 2008/9 27.1
Liberia 2007 58.2
Mali 2006 85.2
Mauritania 2007 72.2
Niger 2006 2.2
Nigeria 2008 29.6
Senegal 2005 28.2
Sierra Leone 2006 94
Somalia 2006 97.9
Sudan, northern (approximately 80% of total population in survey) 2000 90
Togo 2006 5.8
Uganda 2006 0.8
United Republic of Tanzania 2004 14.6
Yemen 2003 38.2

Eliminating FGM. An interagency statement

cover interagency statement on fgm