Sexual and reproductive health

Sociocultural motivations for female genital mutilation: matrimonial strategies, family motivations and religious justifications among the Al Pulaar and the Soninké in the River Senegal Valley

UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP)

Front page

Publication details

Number of pages: 2
Publication date: 2011
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/RHR/11.16


The prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) among the Al Pulaar and the Soninké of the Senegal River area is estimated to lie between 80 and 100%. In these two communities FGM is mainly practiced on girls aged 0–2 years, so as to avoid the girls’ potential refusal. The practice is planned and carried out by women, but receives tacit support from the men in the community. More specifically this study aims to document matrimonial strategies within the context of intracaste and intraethnic endogamy as well as the locally perceived importance of virginity.

The study seeks to examine family incentives, to understand the cultural context of the practice of FGM and to identify the diverging interpretations of religious texts that encourage FGM.