Saudi Arabia

Population

33,875,379

2018 population growth rate

1.87%

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49

Unknown. There are no national statistics on female genital cutting (FGC) in Saudi Arabia. It has been suggested that FGC occurs amongst migrant populations, and particularly in the south of Saudi Arabia along the border with Yemen.

One Saudi cleric publicly backed the continuation of the practice, stating that it is a “noble” act. This support suggests that FGC could be practiced within native populations in Saudi Arabia.


Type practised

Varied. The most commonly practised form of FGC is thought to be Type I. Within migrant populations, the type of FGC practised is likely to vary depending on the traditions of the ethnic group/country of heritage.


Age

Unknown. There are anecdotal reports of girls undergoing FGC at birth, approximately up to the age of 6.


Agent

Unknown.


Legal status

Legal.


Challenges to ending FGC

  • Lack of research and data on the practice in Saudi Arabia is an ongoing obstacle, as little is understood about the harmful consequences of FGC or the scale of the issue.
  • Non-Governmental Organisations in Saudi Arabia are restricted by government authorities, especially when dealing with sensitive social issues such as FGC. This presents a major challenge for civil society to engage with efforts to end the practice.
  • Religion has been used to publicly justify the practice by some prominent figures, including a popular Saudi Islamic theologian, Sheikh Mohamad Alarefe, and Sheikh Yussef al-Badri, despite FGC not being an obligation of any religion.
  • Sheikh Al-Hajji Al-Kurdi from the Saudi Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs endorsed FGC as “sunna” (accepted by Islam) in a 2013 fatwa.

Human Development Index ranking

39 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.


Infant mortality rate

11.1 deaths per 1,000 live births (2016).


Maternal mortality rate

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

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