Country: Senegal

Population: 13.6 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-46:

25.7% & 966,500 women aged 15+ cut

Data Source DHS 2010-11
15 – 49 (%) 25.7
15 - 19 (%) 24.0
45 - 49 (%) 28.5
Urban (%) 23.4
Rural (%) 27.8
Lowest Region (%) 0.5
Highest Region (%) 92.0
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 9.9
Flesh removed (%) 52.7
Sewn closed (%) 13.8
Traditionally performed (%) 92.5
Medically performed (%) 0.6
National law Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

Type II is the most common form of FGC in Senegal, with some minority groups practicing Type III.

Legal status:

In 1999, FGC was made illegal in Senegal. It is punishable by a sentence of one to five years in prison but there has never been a successful conviction under this law.

History of FGC in Senegal:

In February 1998, former President Diouf called for the eradication of this practice and a national debate on the subject. The Ministry of Women, Children and the Family sponsors public programs, such as information campaigns on the radio and seminars about the religious and health aspects.

Following the accession of President Abdoulaye Wade in March 2000, a new FGC study was spearheaded in Senegal. The goals of the study include: developing an integrated governmental approach; identifying those scattered groups working against the practice and their methods; tracking and assessing the situation of women who have publicly abandoned the practice; reviewing the current extent of the practice and assessing the impact of Senegal’s 1999 law.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

The NGO Tostan delivers an education program for women in villages and communities across Senegal. The program has been supported financially by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the government of Senegal. It emphasises participation and the empowerment of women using materials that draw on Senegalese culture and traditions. Instructional materials include games, small group discussions, theatre, songs, dance and story-telling. Modules for learning address such issues as literacy skills, problem solving, women's health and hygiene, management skills, leadership skills, negotiating skills and human rights. They are given in four local languages. This program is currently being replicated in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Mauritania and Mali. Thousands of communities have decided to end the practice of FGC as a result of these educational programmes. From the outset, Tostan did not state whether FGC was right or wrong. It was the women themselves who, after taking the program, decided that they no longer wanted their daughters to be subjected to this practice. Using the skills learned in the program, they approached their husbands and village leaders to engage the entire community to stop the practice.

Senegalese musical artist Sister Fa has written popular songs about the practice and publically campaigns to raise awareness about FGC. Other organisations working to bring an end to FGC in Senegal include CAMS (Campaign pour L’abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles) and ENDA-GRAF.

There has been a reduction in the FGC acceptance rate by girls and women to 17%, and boys and men to 14%.

Ongoing challenges:

Representatives of Tostan, which follows a basic education and empowerment approach, have suggested that outlawing FGC has made their work more difficult since it increased the defensiveness among the populations practicing it. The press has also suggested that the passage of the law has driven the practice underground.

Additional information:

Along ethnic lines, FGC is most common among Soninke (78%) and Pular (62%) and lowest for women from the Wolof and Serer groups (2%). 29% of Muslim women have been circumcised compared to 11% of Christian women and 16% of animist women.

Major ethnic groups:

Wolof 43.3%

Pular 23.8%

Serer 14.7%

Jola 3.7%

Mandinka 3%

Soninke 1.1%

European and Lebanese 1%

Other 9.4%

Major languages:

French (official)

Major religions:

Islam 94%

Christianity 5% (mostly Roman Catholic)

Indigenous beliefs 1%

News and Blogs:

Has FGC prevalence dropped significantly in East, North and West Africa?
Choosing a world free from FGC: Aissata’s story
London postcard campaign – Q&A
None of our daughters will be cut: Finda Baldé’s story
Hibo Wardere on BBC R4’s Women’s Hour
Over 170 communities to end female genital cutting
Orchid’s CEO and Founder receives OBE
“We will not stop at this declaration” – Real change in the Fouta
Discussing the best practices for FGC awareness-raising activities
The community of Siriworo decides to abandon harmful practices
Media Tour highlights Tostan’s accomplishments in Kolda, Senegal
Awareness-raising in the new community of Thianfara Koba, Kolda
Raising awareness about female genital cutting in rural Senegal with computer tablets
Discussing FGC in a challenging environment
Addressing female genital cutting on the radio
Working with schools in Senegal to end FGC
Maximizing the Impact: Communities Help Spread Information about Female Genital Cutting
Just a normal Saturday in Asnde Balla – talking about FGC in the Fouta
The role of radio in the abandonment of female genital cutting in Senegal
Growing the movement for the abandonment of FGC – Part 2
Growing the movement for the abandonment of FGC – Part 1
Shadowing social mobilization efforts in the Fouta: Part 2
Shadowing social mobilization efforts in the Fouta: Part 1
Only 340 new communities needed for abandonment of female genital cutting in Senegal
Mobilising to end FGC in Senegal – a project update
Honouring Maimouna Traoré – revolutionary Tostan programme participant
Melinda Gates visits empowered community members in Senegal
‘Education sans excision’ in the Casamance, Senegal – Part 2
Welcome to Dakar, Senegal
Leaving Senegal – lesson #1 about ending female genital cutting
Sister Fa
Tostan receive Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship
Senegal vows to end FGM by 2015

In the news:

Medical Express - Human rights treaties being used as tools to help end FGC, but process is long and complex

All Africa - Senegalese woman campaigns heavily to end FGC

Ventures Africa - How Senegalese rapper, Sister Fa, is fighting FGC

All Africa - Tostan, Gambia, Senegal vow to curb FGC

APS - Le dandé maayo évalue un programme sur l'excision et les mariages précoces

Reuters - Surgery offers hope to Senegal FGC victims, costs 350,000 cfa ($700) and is only accessible to elites

The Guardian - Ending FGC, one household at a time

Reuters - On FGC, how long should the night be?

FIGO - Tostan defends approach to fighting FGC

The Daily Pennsylvanian - Tostan founder Molly Melching shares stories of humanitarian work in Africa

The Guardian – Sister Fa: African rapper with a cause

New York Times - Movement to end female genital cutting embraced by 5,000 Senegalese villages

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