The prevalence of FGM/C among women aged 15-49 in Sierra Leone is 83.0%.
FGM/C is closely linked with the Bondo secret society, as it is part of the initiation ritual. 57.0% of women believe that the practice should continue.
The district with the highest FGM/C prevalence is Karene, in the north (98% of women aged 15-49). The district with the lowest prevalence is Bo, in the central province (65.0%).
45.0% of women aged 15-49 who have undergone FGM/C were cut between the ages of 10 and 14
‘Cut, flesh removed’ is the most common type of FGM/C practised
Almost all instances of FGM/C are performed by traditional cutters
Distribution of FGM/C across Sierra Leone
FGM/C in Sierra Leone is closely linked with the Bondo secret society, as it is part of the initiation ritual into that society.
The district with the highest FGM/C prevalence is Karene, in the north (98% of women aged 15-49). The district with the lowest prevalence is Bo, in the central province (65.0%). FGM/C is more prevalent among women living in rural areas (88.7%) than among those living in urban areas (76.4%).
Prevalence is inversely correlated with a woman’s level of education, but is relatively unaffected by the wealth quintile in which a woman falls, unless she is in the highest wealth quintile, in which prevalence drops from 90% or more to 76.9% for women aged 15-49.
42.5% of women aged 15-49 believe that FGM/C is required by their religion, and 57.0% of women in the same age-range believe that the practice should continue.
Trends in FGM Prevalence in Sierra Leone
Between 2013 and 2019, the overall prevalence for women aged 15-49 fell from 89.6% to 83.0%. Due to the large age-range of 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 45-49 is 94.9%, while for the youngest age group this has fallen to 61.1%. Despite the fact that a proportion of women may be cut after the age of 15, the data demonstrates a trend towards lower prevalences for younger women.
FGM/C Legislation in Sierra Leone
To date, the Government of Sierra Leone has not passed legislation that prohibits the practice of FGM/C. A nationwide ban of FGM/C was declared in November 2014, due to the ebola crisis. In 2015, when Sierra Leone was declared ebola free, President Ernest Bai Koroma stated that he hoped traditional practices that were discontinued during the outbreak would not be returned to. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
8,154,439 (as of 21 June 2021), with a 2.21% growth rate (2021 est.)
31 deaths per 1,000 live births (2019)
1,120 deaths per 100,000 live births (2017)
SDG Gender Index
Ranked 136 out of 144 countries with a score of 44.4% (2022)