Key Findings

The prevalence of FGM in women aged 15–49 is 7.3%.

About 90% of men and women believe the practice should not continue. 

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The departments with the highest prevalence are in the north; of Benin’s 12 departments, six record a prevalence of less than 1%


85.3% of women aged 15–49 who have undergone FGM were cut before the age of 15


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


Almost all FGM is carried out by ‘traditional agents’ (including traditional cutters and birth attendants)

Development Indicators


11,419,331 (as at 1 May 2017), with a 2.75% growth rate (Nov. 2016 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate

64 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015)

Maternal Mortality Rate

405 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015)

Literacy Rate

38.4% of the total population aged 15 and over can read/write

Prevalence of FGM

Prevalence of FGM

The departments in Benin with the highest FGM prevalence are in the north:  Borgou (41.4%), Alibori (26.2%), Donga (26.0%) and Atacora (14.4%).  There is a significant difference between these departments and the rest of Benin, as the department with the next-highest prevalence is Collines, at 2.9%.  The department with the lowest prevalence is Couffo, in which no instances of FGM are recorded, and in six of the 12 departments, FGM prevalence is less than 1%.  It is slightly more common in women living in rural areas (8.8%) than in those living in urban areas (5.5%).  

FGM appears to be practised more by Muslims than by people of other religions, and there is a wide variation in levels of practice between ethnic groups:  over 40% prevalence among the Bariba and Peulh, and less than 1% among the Adja and Fon.

Trends in FGM Prevalence

Trends in FGM Prevalence

Between 2006 and 2011/12, the overall prevalence for women aged 15–49 fell from 12.9% to 7.3%.  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 12%, while for the youngest age group this has fallen to just 2%. Despite the fact that a small proportion of women may be cut after the age of 15, the data demonstrates a clear trend towards lower prevalences among younger women.

FGM Legislation in Benin

The main law prohibiting FGM is Law no. 2003-03 on the Supression of Female Genital Mutilation in the Republic of Benin, which was issued in March 2003.  There is a lack of evidence, however, of any FGM cases being prosecuted under this law.

See Benin: The Law and FGM for more detail.


Research and resources for Benin