The Gambia


Key Findings

The prevalence of FGM in women aged 15-49 is 74.9%.

65% of women who have heard of FGM think the practice should continue.

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Basse, the most rural region of the country, has the highest prevalence (96.7% of women aged 15-49); Banjul, the most urbanised area, has the lowest prevalence (47.4%)


54.8% of women aged 15-49 were cut before the age of 5; 28.1% between the ages of 5 and 9


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


95.7% of FGM is carried out by ‘traditional circumcisers’

Development Indicators


2,114,435 (as at 30 May 2017), with a 2.11% growth rate (2016 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate

48 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015)

Maternal Mortality Rate

706 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015)


55.5% of the total population aged 15 and over can read/write

Prevalence of FGM

Prevalence of FGM

FGM is practised across all eight Local Government Areas (‘LGAs’) in The Gambia, and by both Christians (20.9% of women aged 15-49) and Muslims (77.3%).  The LGA with the highest prevalence is Basse, the eastern-most and most rural region, at 96.7% of women aged 15-49.  The LGA with the lowest prevalence is Banjul, a coastal area and the most urbanised, at 47.4%.  The Basse region is predominantly inhabited by the Sarahule, Mandinka and Fula ethnic groups, whereas the coastal areas of Banjul and Kanifing are predominantly inhabited by the Wolof (among whom the prevalence of FGM has historically been the lowest among The Gambia’s different ethnic groups) and the Mandinka.  Overall, the prevalence of FGM in women aged 15-49 living in urban areas is 71.6%, and for those living in rural areas is 79.1%.

According to the 2013 DHS survey, the overall prevalence for women aged 15-49 is 74.9%.  Although the results from the DHS and MICS surveys may not be directly comparable, the 2010 MICS survey found that prevalence for the same age-range was 76.3%, suggesting that there may have been been a small decrease in prevalence.

Of women aged 15-49 who have heard of FGM, 65% feel that the practice should continue, although among women who have not undergone FGM, that figure drops to 5.4%.

FGM Legislation in Gambia

The Women's (Amendment) Act 2015 addressed the issue of harmful practices for the first time in The Gambia by introducing Section 32A (Prohibition of female circumcision) and Section 32B (Accomplices to female circumcision).  Very few prosecutions have reportedly taken place since the ban was introduced and case details are limited.

See The Gambia: The Law and FGM for more detail.


Research and resources for The Gambia