Guinea Bissau

Country: Guinea-Bissau

Population: 1.7 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

49.8% & 0.2 million women cut (aged 15+)

Data Source MICS 2010
15 – 49 (%) 49.8
15 - 19 (%) 48.4
45 - 49 (%) 50.3
Urban (%) 41.3
Rural (%) 57.2
Lowest Region (%) 6.4
Highest Region (%) 94.5
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 0.2
Flesh removed (%) 83.9
Sewn closed (%) 11.6
Traditionally performed (%) 99.2
Medically performed (%) 0.2
National law Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

The most widely practiced forms are Type I and Type II.

Legal status:

Until quite recently, no law prohibited the practice of FGC in Guinea-Bissau. However, in June 2011 the National Popular Assembly (ANP) approved a law prohibiting FGC. The controversial law had been on the discussion table for 16 years, before it was approved by 64 votes in favour to 1 against.

History of FGC in Guinea-Bissau:

Before the country's civil war in the late 1990s, a National Committee against Harmful Practices (supported by UNICEF and others) conducted FGC awareness campaigns in partnership with local NGOs. These activities were not sustained due to political instability and a lack of funding, but the government intended to address the problem – starting with a national consultation on FGC.

In 1995, a government proposal to outlaw FGC was defeated in parliament, but practitioners were to be held criminally responsible if a woman died as a result of FGC. Since this time, it has been suggested that the government has failed to adequately assist the movement against FGC.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

UNICEF is implementing a joint programme with UNFPA and the NGO Tostan in Guinea-Bissau to promote the end of FGC. This programme has achieved public declarations for the abandonment of FGC in a number of communities in the Gabu and Bafata regions where the practice is most prevalent.

To date, 66% of girls and women believe FGC should stop. There has been no significant reduction rate nationally in the prevalence of FGC in Guinea–Bissau; 50% of women aged 45-49 have undergone FGC, compared to 48% of girls aged 15-19.

The NGO Sinim Mira Nassiquê ('we are thinking of the future' in Mandinka) has brought cutters and activists together to discuss the health hazards of FGC. It presents alternative rites of passage to rural societies. They also include the cutters in the process, considering that 98% of FGC practices are performed by traditional birth attendants.

Ongoing challenges:

34% of girls and women approve of the continuation of FGC across the country. In some local traditions, uncut women are not considered clean enough to prepare food, thus ostracising them from the community.

In some areas, the practice is linked to religion.

Additional information:

It is easier to campaign against FGC in urban areas, as the issue is well known there and the majority reject the practice. Most urban men and women see the practice as outdated.

Practising ethnic groups:




Portuguese (official)




Major religions:

Muslim 50%

Indigenous beliefs 40%

Christianity 10%

In the news:

Daily Mail - FGC abandonment declarations taking place in 4 West African countries, including Guinea Bissau

SOS Children's Villages - Big lottery funds a women's empowerment program to raise women's rights and decrease FGC

Star Africa – Mother and cutter jailed 3 years

iOL  News - Guinea-Bissau launches first FGC prosecutions

Skoll Foundation - 144 communities publicly declare promotion of human rights, abandon FGC

The Guardian – The African villages declaring an end to female genital cutting

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