The district with the highest FGM 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 were cut between the ages of 10 and 14
‘Cut, flesh removed’ is the most common type of FGM practised
Almost all instances of FGM are performed by traditional cutters
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)
43.2% of the total population aged 15 and over can read/write
FGM 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 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 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 is required by their religion, and 57.0% of women in the same age-range believe that the practice should continue.
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 Legislation in Sierra Leone
See Sierra Leone: The Law and FGM for more detail.