Mali: Facts on Gender based violence and Female Genital Mutilation

By: Emi Watanabe

Mali is located in Western Africa and has been struggling with political instability since 2012 after an armed conflict in northern Mali. This conflict has led to cases of “rape and other forms of gender based violence (GBV)”(USAID 2014). 

Starting at the age of 15, about 4 in 10 women (38%) experienced physical violence, which was “mainly inflicted by their husband or most recent partners (65%). More than 10% of “women between the ages of 15-49 years reported being a victim of sexual violence at some point in their lives” and 25% of “women have been physically injured as a result of domestic violence in the last 12 months”(USAID 2014). The prevalence of GBV in Mali reflects the current situation faced by women in the country. The conflict in Mali has also led to 151,150 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

A parallel topic that affects women is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C), “also known as ‘female genital cutting’ or ‘female circumcision’, [and] refers to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (UNICEF 2013). The most common reason for practicing FGM is for social acceptance. In Mali, the “percent of girls and women aged 15-49 years [old] who have undergone FGM/C” is 89%, which is one of the highest percentages when compared to neighboring countries. (UNICEF 2013) FGM/C is considered not only a health risk but also a human rights violation. In 1993, the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights classified female genital mutilation as a form of Violence Against Women (VAW). 

Overall, the situation in Mali is not the most favorable for women. There is room for improvement in the areas of GBV prevention and the education on the potential health risks and human rights violations of FGM/C. 

Female genital mutilation/cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change. (2013). New York, NY: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Mali. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2015, from

USAID (2014). Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Mali. Retrieved from