2018 population growth rate


Estimated FGC prevalence amongst women


Source: UNICEF

Type practised

Girls in Somaliland commonly undergo female genital cutting (FGC) Type III (Infibulation).

Source: UNICEF


Most girls are cut between the ages of 4 and 14.

Source: 28 Too Many


Traditional practitioners.

Source: 28 Too Many

Legal status


National progress

  • 2002 – Somaliland signed and ratified the Convention on the rights of the Child (COVAW).
  • 2018 – The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Somaliland issued a fatwa (Islamic law ruling) banning the most severe type of FGC, type III (infibulation).

Challenges to ending FGC

  • FGC is a deeply entrenched social norm in Somaliland, reinforced by gender norms and cultural notions of femininity, and linked with religion. Research has found that the practice persists despite individuals having a high-level of knowledge about the harmful impacts of FGC.
  • A study from Population Council found FGC is increasingly medicalised in Somaliland, suggesting that health practitioners could be performing the practice in clinics or private homes. Another baseline study found that health practitioners often face decision-making dilemmas around FGC, and carry out the procedure so parents don’t take them to traditional practitioners in potentially unsterile conditions.
  • Families from countries bordering both Somaliland and Somalia have the opportunity to move across the border to have their daughters cut, because of the absence of legislation banning the practice. This means that cross-border FGC is potential challenge in Somaliland.

Source: Population Council, SOFHA/Orchid Project, 28 Too Many

Infant mortality rate

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

Source: Population Data

Trends in FGC prevalence

In Somaliland, traditionally most girls and women have undergone the pharaonic cut (WHO type III) with a very small number of girls undergoing the “sunna”, which involves no stitches (WHO type I). Recently, there has been an increase in the use of the intermediate cut, often referred to as “sunna 2” (WHO type II). This can be seen as causing less damage than the pharaonic cut, yet still partially closes the vaginal orifice with two or three stitches.

Source: SOFHA/Orchid Project

Resources and Media