Female Genital Mutilation: A Literature Review of the Current Status of Legislation and Policies in 27 African Countries and Yemen.

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


This article discusses the results of a literature review that has assessed the impact of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) legislation in 28 countries (27 in Africa and Yemen) where FGM is concentrated. Evidence on the impact of FGM legislation was available on prevalence of FGM; changes in societal attitudes and perceptions of FGM; knowledge and awareness of FGM legislation and consequences, and the impact on medicalization. While the majority of countries have adopted legal frameworks prohibiting FGM, these measures have been ineffective in preventing and/or in accelerating the abandonment of the practice. Anti-FGM laws have had an impact on prevalence in only two countries where strict enforcement of legal measures has been complemented by robust monitoring, coupled with robust advocacy efforts in communities. Owing to poor enforcement and lax penalties, legal measures have had a limited impact on medicalization. Similarly, legal frameworks have had a limited impact on societal attitudes and perceptions of FGM, with evidence suggesting rigid enforcement of FGM laws has in some instances been counterproductive. Although evidence suggests legislation has not influenced the decline in FGM in the majority of countries, legal frameworks are nevertheless key components of a comprehensive response to the elimination and abandonment of the practice, and need to be complemented by measures that address the underlying socio-cultural norms that are the root of this practice.

Publication (Name of Journal)

African Journal of Reproductive Health