Key Findings

The prevalence of FGM/C among women aged 15–49 in Mauritania is 63.9%.

38.4% of women and 49.4% of men in the same age group believe FGM/C should continue.


The regions with the highest prevalence are in the south and south-east


58.4% of women aged 15–49 who have been cut were cut before the age of 5; 40.7% do not know when they were cut


‘Cut, flesh removed’ is the most common type of FGM/C practised


78.8% of FGM/C incidences are carried out by traditional practitioners

Distribution of FGM/C across Mauritania

The regions in Mauritania with the highest prevalence of FGM/C are in the south and south-east:  Hodh El Gharbi (93.7% of women aged 15–49), Tagant (88.2%) and Guidimakha (84.6%).  The region with the lowest prevalence is Traraza, in the west (17%).  FGM/C is more prevalent in women aged 15–49 who live in rural areas, at 77.1%, than in those who live in urban areas, at 51.3%.  FGM/C prevalence is inversely correlated with women’s levels of education and wealth.

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2011 found that 89.5% of women who live in a household where the head’s primary language is Soninké have undergone FGM/C, compared to 79% of women whose household head speaks Poular, 68.3% of women whose household head speaks Arabic and 15.7% of women whose household head speaks Wollof.

Distribution of FGM/C across Mauritania

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Trends in FGM/C Prevalence in Mauritania

Trends in FGM/C Prevalence in Mauritania

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Between 2016 and 2019/20, the overall prevalence among women aged 15–49 fell from 66.6% to 63.9%.  Due to the large age-range of the women included, however, the overall prevalence alone may not fully reflect the progress that has been made in recent years.

Breaking down the most recent data by age group shows that the prevalence for women aged 40–49 is 70.6%, while for the youngest age group this has fallen to 55.8%.  Despite the fact that a small proportion of women may be cut after the age of 15, the data suggests a trend towards a lower prevalence among younger women.

FGM/C Legislation in Mauritania

Currently, Article 12 of Law No. 2005–015 on the Criminal Protection of the Child (2005) criminalises and sets out the punishment for FGM/C performed on a child under 18 years of age in Mauritania.  Law enforcement is reportedly weak, and very few cases reach court.

Development Indicators

Population Growth

4,903,483 (as at 15 September 2022), with a 1.99% growth rate (2022 est.)

Infant Mortality

51 deaths per 1,000 live births (2022)

Maternal Mortality

766 deaths per 100,000 live births (2017)

SDG Gender Index

Ranked 135 out of 144 countries with a score of 46.0% (2022)