Key Findings

The prevalence of FGM among women aged 15–49 in Somalia is 99.2%.

72% of women believe that FGM is a requirement of their religion.


Prevalence is marginally higher among nomadic populations (99.7%), but universally high in all locations


Most girls are cut between the ages of 10 and 14


Most women have undergone Type III FGM/C (infibulation/‘sewn closed’), which is also known as Pharaonic FGM/C


Predominantly traditional practitioners, but medicalised FGM/C is on the rise

Distribution of FGM/C across Somalia

In 2006, prevalence in the South/Central Zone was 99.2% and in 2011 in the North-East Zone (Puntland) it was 98% (women aged 15–49).  There is no geographical breakdown available for the prevalence in 2020.

Across both Somalia and Somaliland, women who live in rural areas are only slightly more likely to undergo FGM/C than those who live in urban areas. The prevalence is highest among nomadic women, but is universally high (over 98%) among women living in all areas.

76.4% of women believe that FGM/C should continue and 18.9% believe that it should not.

While support for Type III (Pharaonic) FGM/C has declined in recent years, other types of FGM referred to as ‘Sunni’ remain popular.  More than four in five women in the oldest age group experienced Pharaonic cutting, compared to less than half of women in the youngest age group.

Distribution of FGM/C across Somalia

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Trends in FGM Prevalence in Somalia

Trends in FGM Prevalence in Somalia

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FGM/C prevalence among women aged 15–49 has remained broadly consistent for some time.

Breaking down the 2020 data by age group shows that the prevalence for women aged 45–49 is 99.8%, while for the youngest age group it is 98.8%, but some women over the age of 15 may yet be cut.

FGM/C Legislation in Somalia

There is currently no national law in place banning FGM/C in Somalia.  New national legislation is being drafted and will go through a consultation phase with stakeholders during 2019. In November 2013, 18 religious leaders in Puntland signed a fatwa against FGM/C, which was witnessed by various ministers. In March 2014, the president of Puntland approved an official policy outlawing all forms of FGM/C; however, parliamentary legislation is not yet in place. In February 2018 the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Somaliland issued a fatwa banning the most severe type of FGM/C, Type III (infibulation/'sewn closed').

Development Indicators

Population Growth

11–12 million (2019), with a 2.21% growth rate (2020 est.)  

Infant Mortality

85 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015)

Maternal Mortality

692 deaths per 100,000 live births

HDI Rank

Estimated at 165 out of 170 countries (2010)

Latest Research

Reports Resources Articles

The Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)- Migration Matrix

Lead Author: BARRETT Hazel
Published by: Health Care for Women International
Year published: 2020