Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Other elements

Last edited: February 25, 2011

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  • Legislation should provide that this law shall be translated into all local languages. 
  • Legislation should provide for educational materials on this law to be created for non-literate people.
  • Legislation should also provide that during investigations or court cases licensed interpreters and cultural mediators are present to translate. Such interpreters or mediators should receive training on the issues related to FGM and should under go questioning from the court to determine they are eligible to provide accurate translation. 

Statistical Compilation on FGM


Legislation should provide that a state agency is mandated to keep statistics on how many women and girls have undergone FGM or are at risk of undergoing FGM so that the issue will not be marginalized and to promote law and policy implementation.  Legislation should mandate funding to obtain statistics over many years so that changes may be noted and analyzed.

[The European Parliament] [c]alls on the Member States to quantify the number of women who have undergone FGM or are at risk in individual countries, taking into account the fact that there are as yet no figures available for many countries, which likewise do not have harmonized data-gathering systems.


Enhancing Capacities to Eradicate Violence Against Women is a guide to help countries and regional partnerships develop enhanced data collection and surveys to gather information about violence against women. (UN Regional Commissions, 2013).

Case Study: UNICEF Report on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change (2013): Seminal Study on FGM Uses National Surveys as Basis for In-Depth Analysis of Prevalence and Attitudes on Complex Issue

A 2013 report by UNICEF analyzed national surveys from 29 countries where FGM occurs most frequently to discern prevalence and attitudes of support for the practice. Based upon the surveys, which include 17 surveys completed in the last three years and, for the first time, data on girls under the age of 15, estimates on national prevalence and prevalence in ethnic sub-groups were made. The study found that eight of the 29 countries had a very high prevalence of FGM, with more than 80% of girls and women of reproductive age having been subjected to the practice. Five countries exhibited moderately high prevalence - where FGM has been practiced upon 51%-80% of the relevant population, six countries showed prevalence between 26% and 50%, four had low prevalence of 10%-25%, and in six countries, less than 10% of girls and women of reproductive age had been subjected to the practice of FGM. The researchers determined that regional and cross-border patterns for FGM prevalence corresponded to the sites of ancient empires and, to some extent, to current ethnic populations. The study found that in more than half of the 29 countries, FGM is less common among adolescent girls than middle-aged women; however, declines in the practice have occurred at different rates and at different times and vary sharply from country to country and region to region. Overall, even in countries of high prevalence, there has been a decline in the numbers of girls and women who want the practice of FGM to continue.

The researchers concluded that the social expectations and norms around FGM were of great importance to prevalence and to strategies for elimination. The researchers studied actual and perceived support for FGM, and the links between FGM and rural populations, socio-economic status, and education levels. The study demonstrates the complexity of the issue and the many factors which affect whether or not FGM is practiced. It provides data on the level of support of the practice among girls, women, boys, and men.

The researchers concluded that strategies for elimination should find a way to make attitudes which support the elimination of the practice more visible and acceptable to the group. For example, men did not support the practice in many countries, leading the researchers to conclude that entire communities should be involved as change agents. Researchers found that linking the abandonment of FGM to positive traditional and religious community values such as ‘doing no harm’ not only promoted abandonment but also helped address gender-based violence on a larger scale. The report also indicated that empowering girls was an important strategy. The study concluded by noting that that if current evidence of commitment to end FGM is sustained and gains momentum, a real transformation will take place and millions of girls will never undergo FGM.

UNICEF, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change (2013). Available in English.



Legislation should mandate funding to address the necessary aspects of creating change to stop the practice of FGM. This includes funding needed to implement the law, change social norms and influence individual beliefs and expectations. Funding to that end should be mandated for the child protection system, changes to the criminal justice system, to provide training and education, and to enable data collection on aspects relating to the new laws.

Time Frame to Enforce Laws

The time between the enactment and enforcement of a new FGM law must be carefully calculated so that amendments and regulations which are necessary to the enforcement of the new law will be enacted and promulgated speedily.

Amendments to Laws

Drafters should anticipate and allow for amendments to the law on FGM as unintended consequences and unforeseen manifestations of the practice of female genital mutilation occur.

Removal of Conflicting Provisions

Because the elimination of FGM involves extensive social change, drafters should review and reform other laws that prevent the equality of women and girls.  Legislation should require that laws, in any area, that conflict with the underlying goal of women’s equality, safety and education, be removed or amended. 

Drafters should specifically review conflicting customary and religious laws or situations of dual legal systems where civil law operates adjacent to customary or religious laws which often govern family relations and property rights and may discriminate against women. 

To this end, drafters should develop and review laws in other areas to ensure they reflect a commitment to establishing the equality of women and girls.  Examples include:

  • Development of uniform civil laws relating to family and property law that have clear supremacy to conflicting customary or religious law.
  • Development of laws that prevent discrimination against minorities.
  • Development of immigration laws that protect and prioritize the rights of women and girls. 
  • Development of laws that protect the advancement of women in employment. 
  • Development of laws that ensure the right to health and education for women and girls.