Key Findings

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

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

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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 (infibulation/‘sewn closed’), which is also known as Pharaonic FGM


Predominantly traditional practitioners, but medicalised FGM is on the rise

Development Indicators


4–5 million

Infant Mortality Rate

85 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015)

Maternal Mortality Ratio

692 deaths per 100,000 live births

Literacy Rate

40% (female – 36.2%; male – 43.8%)

Prevalence of FGM

Prevalence of FGM

In 2020, the prevalence of FGM across Somalia and Somaliland was 99.2%.  In 2011, prevalence in Somaliland was 99.1% (women aged 15–49).

Across both Somali and Somaliland, women who live in rural areas are only slightly more likely to undergo FGM 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 should continue and 18.9% believe that it should not.

While support for Type III (Pharaonic) FGM 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.

Trends in FGM Prevalence

Trends in FGM Prevalence

FGM 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 Legislation in Somaliland

There is currently no national law in place banning FGM in Somaliland.  New national legislation has been drafted and will enter a consultation phase with stakeholders in 2019.

In the run-up to the November 2017 presidential elections, it was reported that all three candidates publicly pledged to outlaw FGM.

In February 2018 the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Somaliland issued a fatwa banning the most severe type of FGM, Type III (infibulation/'sewn closed').

See Somaliland: The Law and FGM for more detail.


Research and resources for Somaliland