Country: Mauritania

Population: 3.5 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

69.4% & 680,278 women cut

Data Source MICS 2011
15 – 49 (%) 69.4
15 - 19 (%) 65.9
45 - 49 (%) 75.2
Urban (%) 57.2
Rural (%) 80.5
Lowest Region (%) 19.9
Highest Region (%) 98.8
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 3.5
Flesh removed (%) 68.6
Sewn closed (%) --
Traditionally performed (%) 1.5
Medically performed (%) 8.4
National law Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

The most commonly practiced forms of FGC in Mauritania are Type I and Type II (73.9%). Type III is also practiced but with a lesser prevalence of 3.2%.

Legal status:

A national decree banning FGC was passed in 2005 which incriminates all that conduct or witness FGC taking place.

History of FGC in Mauritania:

FGC is practiced by all ethnic groups in Mauritania. It is usually performed on young girls, often on the 7th day after birth or before the age of 6 months and typically (90%) by a traditional practitioner. The practice of FGC has diminished in the more modern urban areas of Mauritania and among better-educated sections of the population; however the prevalence amongst poorer citizens is still 94%.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

Mauritania commemorates International Day of Zero Tolerance on FGC, and has subsequently launched a national strategy and action plan to abandon FGC. This currently includes government, civil society, activists, doctors and religious leaders, and is supported by various development partners.

The Government of Mauritania, alongside international NGOs and religious leaders have continued to coordinate work to end FGC. They focus on ending the practice in hospitals, discouraging midwives from practicing FGC, and educating the public on the harmful effects of the practice. Using media and educational campaigns, the Government has driven home the message against FGC.

A ‘Fatwa’ — or religious notice — was issued in 2010 by the Imam of Nouakchott, forbidding FGC on the grounds that Islam emphasises the dignity of human beings.

Ongoing challenges:

One in three girls and women think FGC is necessary for social acceptance and 69% of boys and men think FGC should continue. The prevalence rate has decreased slightly from 75% (ages 45-49) to 66% (ages 15-19).

Reports indicate that midwives continue to perform FGC in local hospitals, violating the Government’s ban. There remains a need for laws specifically targeting FGC and some stress the need for legal sanctions against those who continue to practice FGC.

Several fatwas against FGC have been issued in Mauritania over the years, and although the notice does ban the practice, the ruling provides neither enforcement nor sanction. What’s more, a fatwa is only binding to those who follow a particular imam, so communities could contradict these decrees.

Ethnic groups:

30% Arab (Moors/Berber/Beidane)

30% Soninke, Toucouleur, Fula

40% Mixed


Arabic (official)






Major religions:

Islam 100%

  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Mail
  • Print