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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Office of International Women's Issues > Electronic Resources > Other Reports > Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) > 2001

C. Prevalence of FGM

FGM is most associated with Africa where it is practiced in varying degrees in over half of the Sub-Saharan African countries. It also occurs in some Middle Eastern countries: Egypt, the Republic of Yemen (primarily coastal areas), Oman (in limited numbers throughout Oman but more widespread in the southern coastal region), Saudi Arabia (among a few immigrant women and among some Bedouin tribes and residents of the Hejaz) and Israel (among a very small number of women in a few Bedouin groups in the south). It also occurs in some Muslim groups in Indonesia where the most common form is a symbolic pricking, scraping or touching of the clitoris. It is reported by medical professionals to be practiced by a very small number of Malay Muslims in rural areas in Malaysia where it resembles a symbolic prick, a tiny ritual cut to the clitoris or where the blade is simply brought close to the clitoris. It also occurs to a very small extent among the Bohra Muslims in the largest cities of Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan. Because the incidence is believed to be so small or information is not available, this report does not further discuss Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel or Pakistan.

Some immigrants practice various forms of FGM in other parts of the world, including countries in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Many of these countries have enacted laws banning the practice. (See section on Laws in Countries where Immigrants from Countries Practicing FGM now Reside.)

Exact figures of the number of women and girls who have undergone this procedure are not available, except in Uganda, largely because the cultural role of women in these countries inhibits public discussion or opposition to the practice. The following percentages are from studies and surveys that represent estimates of the percentage of women and girls in the country who have undergone the procedure; some figures may be based on anecdotal evidence. More specific information by ethnic groups and areas can be found in the chart at the end of this report.

Country Prevalence
Benin 30-50 percent (Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) 1992 survey is 30%. WHO estimates 50%.)
Burkina Faso 71.6 percent (1999 Demographic and Health Survey of 6,445 women nationally)
Cameroon Less than 5-20 percent (various estimates)
Central African Republic 43.4 percent (1995 Demographic and Health Survey of 5,884 women nationally)
Chad 60 percent (1995 UN report)
Cote d'Ivoire 44.5 percent (1999 Demographic and Health Survey of 3,040 women nationally)
Democratic Republic of the Congo 5 percent (various estimates)
Djibouti 90-98 percent (various estimates)
Egypt 78-97 percent (2000 Demographic and Health Survey of 15,648 women nation-wide. 97 percent of ever married women aged 15-49. 78 percent among daughters of women surveyed aged 11-19.)
Eritrea 90 percent (1997 Demographic and Health Survey of 5,054 women nationally)
Ethiopia 72.7 percent (1997 survey by National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia)
Gambia 60-90 percent (various estimates. Foundation for Research on Women's Health, Productivity and the Environment (BAFFROW) reports 7 of 9 ethnic groups practice FGM.)
Ghana 9-15 percent (1998 estimate by Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Center is 15 percent. Recent Rural Help Integrated study estimates 9-12 percent of women nationwide.)
Guinea 98.6 percent (1999 Demographic and Health Survey of 6,753 women nationally)
Guinea-Bissau 50 percent (various estimates)
Indonesia No national figures available yet to know extent of the practice.
Kenya 37.6 percent (1998 Demographic and Health Survey of 7,881 women nationally)
Liberia 10-50 percent (various estimates)
Mali 93.7 percent (USAID funded 1999 Demographic and Health Survey of 9,704 women aged 15-49. Commission for the Promotion of Women estimates 96 percent rural and 92 percent urban.)
Mauritania 25 percent (1997 Juene Afrique survey and 1996 UN Population Fund report)
Niger 4.5 percent (1998 Demographic and Health Survey of 7,577 women nationally)
Nigeria 25.1 percent (1999 Demographic and Health Survey of 8,206 women nationally)
Senegal 5-20 percent (1998 Environmental Development Action in the Third World study estimates 20 percent. Various other estimates range as low as 5 percent.)
Sierra Leone 80-90 percent (various estimates)
Somalia 90-98 percent (UNICEF estimates 90 percent. Other estimates are 96-98 percent.)
Sudan (northern) 89 percent (1991 Demographic and Health Survey of 5,860 women in northern Sudan.) 87 percent urban and 91 percent rural women according to survey conducted from 1996 to April 2000 by Sudan National Committee on Traditional Practices and Save the Children Sweden.)
Tanzania 17.9 percent (1996 Demographic and Health Survey of 8,120 women nationally. 2.9 percent in Mtwara to 81.4 percent in Arusha according to a 1999 report by the Tanzanian Legal and Human Rights Center.)
Togo 12 percent average (Ethnic groups vary from Gourma-12 percent to Cotocoli, Tchamba, Mossi, Yanga and Peul-85 to 98 percent according to U.S. funded 1996 research carried out by the Demographic Research Unit of Togo's University of Benin. Two of largest groups do not practice FGM. They are the Adja-Ewe and the Akposso-Akebou.)
Uganda Less than 5 percent. Number of girls undergoing FGM in 1990-971 girls; 1992-903 girls; 1994-854 girls; 1996-544 girls; 1998-965 girls; 2000-742 girls.
Yemen 23 percent of women who have ever been married (USAID funded 1997 Demographic and Maternal and Child Health Survey)

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