4.57 million

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-19


Type practised

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


FGC in Mauritania is performed on girls under five in 80% of cases.



Traditional practitioners perform FGC in 90% of cases.


Legal status

Illegal, if performed on a minor. There is no protection for women over 18, however.

National progress

  • 2005 – Mauritanian government passed a law criminalising FGC on a minor
  • 2007 – National strategy for combatting FGC created along with mechanism to monitor
  • 2008 – Budget established for anti-FGC unit
  • 2015 – National strategy for combatting FGC
  • 2016 – FGC included in Strategy on Accelerated Growth and Prosperity (2016-2030)
  • 2017 – Law on reproductive health includes two articles criminalising FGC

UN programme

The UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme on FGC has worked with Mauritania’s Ministry of Social Affairs, Childhood and the Family, and Ministry of Justice, to harmonise legislation and create one law that incorporates FGC.

Phase II of the programme (2014-2017) saw 345 communities make public declarations of FGC abandonment. In 2018, it reported that girls and women’s attitudes have been slowly changing. Half of girls and women aged 15-49 think FGC should end.



Enforcement is weak, and little information is available on prosecutions.

Human Development Index ranking

159 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

65 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Maternal mortality rate

602 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Trends in FGC prevalence

FGC is declining in Mauritania but at a slow pace. 63% of girls aged 15-19 years undergo FGC compared to 73% of women aged 45-49 years.


Prevalence breakdown

By region

FGC is most prevalent in the south and south-east of Mauritania (over 85%).

Source: UNICEF, based on MICS 2015, UNFPA-UNICEF