FGM/C and child marriage
Child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting are both human rights violations and harmful practices. They affect girls and women on every continent except Antarctica. Here you will find an overview of the key facts and common drivers of both practices.
- Nine countries are in the top 20 list for both child marriage and FGM/C. They are Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Somalia.
- Girls are most likely to have undergone both FGM/C and child marriage in Sudan (53%), Somaliland (52%), Sierra Leone (37%), Burkina Faso (39%) and Ethiopia (36%).
Linked drivers and impacts
Child marriage and FGM/C vary from country to country, but are both driven by gender norms linked to controlling women and girls’ sexuality, and maintaining social and religious norms.
While a girls’ likelihood of marrying early is most closely linked to her level of education, her likelihood of undergoing FGM/C is most linked to ethnicity.
In some contexts, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage coexist. FGM/C can be linked to a girl’s marriageability, and is sometimes a precursor to marriage.
FGM/ C has no health benefits, but often has devastating long-term consequences for the physical and mental health of girls. This includes pain, recurring bleeding and infections, difficulties passing urine, having sex and giving birth, and depression and anxiety.
To explore solutions that promote adolescent girls’ rights and agency see our Gender learning page.
- Population Council, 2020, Evidence Brief- Exploring the association between FGM/C and Early/Child marriage
- World Vision, 2014, Exploring the links: Female genital mutilation/cutting and early marriage, May 2014, World Vision UK
- Population Council, 2016, Evidence to End FGM/C: Research to Help Women Thrive, A State of the Art Synthesis on FGM/C: What do we know now?
Child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting
Updated brief exploring the common drivers of child marriage and FGM/C, and includes recommendations for integrated policy and programming to catalyse change for girls at every level.
Using the media to address FGM/C and child marriage: The case of the Association of Media Women in Kenya
Case study showcasing the positive impacts of using the media to change attitudes and harmful gender norms related to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the context of Kuria, Western Kenya.
Successfully addressing FGM/C and child marriage: the case of Msichana Empowerment Kuria, Kenya
Case study highlighting the importance of an integrated response to preventing child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the context of Kuria, Kenya.
COVID-19 and child marriage: A year on
This brief – updated in July 2021 – provides insights, recommendations and resources for responding to the needs of adolescent girls during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus…