Sierra Leone


7.76 million

2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


Source: UNICEF, based on DHS 2013

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-19


Type practised

Type I and Type II are the most commonly practised forms of female genital cutting (FGC) in Sierra Leone.


FGC is practised at different ages depending on the ethnic group, with the majority of girls being cut between the ages of 10-14 (around 40%). Very young girls as well as fully grown adults have also been subject to the practice.

Source: 28 Too Many


Traditional practitioners.

Source: 28 Too Many

Legal status

Legal. There is currently no national legislation in Sierra Leone that expressly criminalises and punishes the practice of FGC.

National progress

Due to strong and widespread cultural acceptance there has been little legislative progress on FGC in Sierra Leone:

  • 2007 – The Child Rights Act, during the legislative process, removed sections criminalising FGC after pressure from influential chiefs
  • 2013 – A government review of Sierra Leone’s 1991 Constitution rejected proposed amendments relating to gender equality or child rights
  • 2014 – Nationwide ban on FGC declared, due to the Ebola outbreak
  • 2015 – Country was declared Ebola-free; President Ernest Bai Koroma stated that he hoped traditional practices would not be returned to
  • 2016 – Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs reported to have drafted a national strategy for ending FGC (2016-2020) – not implemented to date


There is no law directly criminalising FGC in Sierra Leone and no evidence that other legislation has been used to prosecute those involved in the practice. There have been isolated reports of arrests but it would appear that no cases were filed.

Human Development Index ranking

184 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

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

Source: 28 Too Many

Maternal mortality rate

1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Trends in FGC prevalence

Between 2008 and 2013, the overall prevalence for women aged 15-49 fell from 91.3% to 89.6%. There would seem to be a trend towards lower prevalences for younger women aged 15-19.

Source: 28 Too Many, based on DHS 2013

Prevalence breakdown

By region

The Northern region has the highest prevalence (96.3%) and the Western the lowest (75.6%).

Source: 28 Too Many, based on DHS 2013

By ethnicity

FGC is closely linked with the Bondo secret society. The practice forms part of the initiation ritual that takes place when a girl reaches puberty. The social and economic influence of the all-female Bondo society helps to perpetuate FGC in Sierra Leone.