1 September 2021

Alarming Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Djibouti: New Report Highlights Urgent Need for Action

Blog by Savannah Grantham for the FGM/C Research Initiative

In Djibouti, the prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting (‘FGM/C’) among women aged 15 to 49 is alarmingly high, at 93.1%. A report by Orchid Project emphasises how widespread the practice is in the nation. Furthermore, a detailed geographic analysis reveals regional disparities, with FGM/C prevalence at 92.9% in the Djibouti city region, but rising to 94.9% in the rest of the country.

The age at which FGM/C is most likely to occur is also revealed by the data – there is a notable spike in prevalence between the ages of five and nine. The most common form of FGM/C in Djibouti, categorised by the World Health Organization as Type III, is the removal and re-sewing of all or part of the genitalia. This constitutes a profound violation of human rights.

The majority of FGM/C cases are performed by traditional practitioners, but a lesser percentage are performed by medical professionals. This underscores the need for focused interventions that address the cultural and medical aspects of the practice.

Trends in FGM/C prevalence indicate a modest decline over time, with prevalence decreasing from 98.1% in 2002 to 93.1% in 2006. This suggests that, despite ongoing efforts, cutting is a major, persistent challenge in Djibouti.

Despite efforts to combat FGM/C, including legislative measures enacted in 2003, enforcement of the law remains a challenge. Recent reports suggest that the practice may have gone underground, necessitating a multifaceted approach to enforcement and prosecution. Cross-border occurrences of FGM/C further complicate efforts, and there is an absence of specific regulations addressing such cases.

In terms of human development, Djibouti ranks 166th out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index, reflecting the broader socioeconomic challenges faced by the nation. High rates of infant and maternal mortality underscore the urgent need for comprehensive health interventions. Additionally, low literacy rates, particularly among women, present barriers to awareness and education initiatives aimed at combating FGM/C.

To address these challenges, sustained scholarly inquiry and evidence-based interventions are essential. Strengthening legislative frameworks, enhancing enforcement mechanisms and fostering community engagement are critical components of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate FGM/C in Djibouti. By leveraging statistical insights and academic rigor, stakeholders can work towards safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of women and girls across the nation.

For a more detailed examination of the data, you can access the complete report [here].