According to UNICEF, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Senegal is 26%, however, variations in prevalence within the country are dramatic. At least, 1 girl out of 5 has experienced infibulation. 79% of all girls and women want the practice to end.
Terre des Femmes notes that in the Matam, Tambacounda, Kédougou, Kolda and Sédhiou regions FGM prevalence is 85% - 92%, in the Ziguinchor region it is 56%, 40% in Saint Louis, 10% in Kaffrine, 20% in Dakar, 7% in Fatick, 6% in Kaolack, 4% in Louga, 1% in Diourbel and 4% in Thiès. Among the Wolof and Serer ethnic groups, prevalence is 2%, while it is 78% among the Soninke. Traditional practitioners usually perform FGM/C and the most common types are excision and infibulation.
The most widespread reason for practising FGM/C concerns social acceptance, other, less common, reasons include the belief that it will preserve a girl's virginity before marriage, give her better marriage prospects and that FGM/C is performed for religious reasons.
See also 28 Too Many's country profile on Senegal.
FGM/C Country of Origin Expert for Senegal
Dr Bettina Shell-Duncan
Email: bsdu [dot] washington [dot] edu
Bettina Shell-Duncan has a Ph.D. in Anthropology, and conducts research on maternal and child health in Africa. She is employed as a Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. One of her areas of specialization is on the topic of FGM/C. She has been a technical consultant on FGM/C at UNICEF and the World Health Organization, and led the WHO research initiative on behaviour change with respect to FGM/C. She has published two books on this topic (Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000; Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context, Rutgers University Press, 2007), and written several academic journal articles. In her role a consultant with UNICEF, she prepared a statistical overview entitled, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change. This report was published in 2013, and is available online.
Several times, Dr Shell-Duncan has offered expert statements regarding asylum applications for African women, including cases where applicants are seeking protection on the grounds of fears that they or their daughters will be forced to undergo FGM/C. She is qualified to comment on cases from Senegal because she been studying the practice of FGM/C there since 2003; she was the principal investigator for a World Health Organization study on behaviour change with respect to FGM/C, a three year study conducted in Senegal and the Gambia.
Email: knoerreth [dot] mpg [dot] de
Jacqueline Knörr, Head of Research at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Extraordinary Professor at the Martin Luther University in Halle/Saale, Germany. Professor Knörr was brought up in Ghana and Germany and has for many years conducted extensive field research in Sierra Leone und the Upper Guinea Coast of West Africa more generally, as well as in Indonesia. She has worked as a Lecturer, Senior Researcher, University Professor, Scientific Director, and Political Advisor. She has served as expert witness in about two hundred asylum cases, writing expert reports concerning FGC/M and other human rights issues.
Dr Charles Dotou
Email: crdotouyahoo [dot] co [dot] uk
Dr Charles R. Dotou, MD, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Dakar, an MA from the Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Strategiques in Paris and an MSc from the University of York, UK. He has completed the medical exams for practicing in the UK and has been also active as a volunteer for both FGM and LGBTI NGOs. He is prepared to write country of origin expert statements for cases where an asylum seeker is fleeing FGM in Senegal. His main practical experiences with FGM in Senegal come from the Tambacounda region where he saw the consequences of the practice; worked to dissuade communities from practicing it, in particular Type 4, a practice which was entrenched in this region. In 1999, he, on behalf of the father of a six-year old girl who had subjected to FGM against her father’s will. Dr. Dotou took a case to the Regional Tribunal of Tambacounda; the father sued his parents and they were punished. This case served as a first after the law against FGM had been enacted, to encourage the law to be used as a deterrence. There have only been six such cases since 1999.
Anti-FGM/C Organisations in Senegal
Comité Sénégalais sur les Pratiques Traditionnelles (COSEPRAT)
Sicap Mermoz No. 7416, 10330 Dakar, Senegal
Tel: (+221) 77 64 39 029
Email: bayelaayeyahoo [dot] fr, coseprat [dot] ciafyahoo [dot] fr
COSEPRAT is an NGO founded in 1984. Its members belong mostly to the medical community and have acquired a good knowledge of FGM/C from medical complications that lead to psychosocial trauma. COSEPRAT works closely in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Action, the Ministry of Justice and National Education. It is present in the region of Dakar and its suburbs (Guédiawaye, Pikine, Parcelles Assainies); is also present in areas with a high prevalence for FGM/C and child marriage in the regions of Tambacounda, Kolda, Kédougou, Matam, Ziguinchor and in the Mbour Department in the Thiès region. The Mission of the COSEPRAT is to bring the people to abandon traditional practices affecting the health of women and children.
5, Cité Aelmas Ouest Foire VDN, B.P. 29371, 10200 Dakar-Yoff, Senegal
Tel: +221 33 820 5589
Email: infotostan [dot] org
TOSTAN's human rights-based Community Empowerment Program (CEP) allows community members to draw their own conclusions about FGM/C and lead their own movements for change. In the CEP class sessions on human rights, participants learn about their right to health and their right to be free from all forms of violence. They also discuss the responsibilities they share to protect these rights in their community. In sessions on health, they learn about the potential, immediate, and long-term harmful consequences of the practice and discuss ways to prevent these health problems in the future. TOSTAN encourages dialogue around these and other practices that communities feel hinder their vision for their community’s development.