Female genital mutilation/female circumcision; whether it's practised on adult females; whether are laws preventing it; who in the family decides if it will be done particularly in the case of an adult female prior to her marriage [MLI34081.E]

FGM prevalence rates reach between 80-94 per cent in Mali (Sunday Telegraph 5 Mar. 2000; The Nation 11 Nov. 1999; Center for Reproductive Law Policy (CRLP) Nov. 1999). According to the Sunday Telegraph, " Mali, is the only West African Country that has not even introduced legislation against female genital mutilation" (5 Mar. 2000). It added that, "at present, female circumcision is normal in Mali." (Ibid.).

The president of the Association for the Progress and the Defence of Malian Women Rights (Association malienne pour le progrès et la défense des droits des femmes maliennes (APDFM), which is active in preventing FGM provided the following information (28 March 2000)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) constitutes a big issue in Mali as more than 80 per cent of women have undergone it. Circumcision is more common in all regions especially in the southern country but infibulation is also practised in some areas. In the past, FGM was in general performed on females between the ages of 12-14. However, in the past two years, young girls between seven and 40 days are more at risk. The reason behind this rising phenomena is that girls at the age of 12-14, are now more educated than in the past, and they prefer to leave their community to escape those practices. In order not to lose their clientele, practitioners perform their job at the early age because not only is FGM considered to be a "rite of passage" but also as source of income. FGM is usually practised by elderly women; generally grandmothers, aunts, or other heads of the family decide on whom and when female circumcision will be performed.

There are no laws preventing those practices and the " Penal Code of Mali" does not refer to those issues. The APDFM and some others NGOS provide, at their own risk, legal assistance and advice to young women who have a chance to escape their communities before circumcision.

According to Country Reports 1999, "violence against women and children, including spousal abuses and female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread" (Feb.2000, Intro.). The same report describes the situation in the country in the following words:

Female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is still common, especially in rural areas, and is performed on girls at an early age. According to a 1995-96 national demographic and health survey, at least 93.7 percent of adult women have undergone this mutilation. The Government has not proposed legislation prohibiting FGM. The Government is pursuing a program of public awareness rather than legal prosecution of women involved in the practice. It supports educational efforts to eliminate the practice through seminars and conferences and provides media access to proponents of its elimination. In 1997 the Ministry for the Promotion of Women created a National Committee Against Violence Towards Women that links all the NGO's active in preventing FGM. Throughout the year, various NGO's campaigned against FGM and in October 1998, the National Committee adopted a draft action plan against sexual mutilation for submission to the Ministerial Council and after further revision was presented early in the year. The Ministerial Council accepted the recommendations and the Government instituted a two-phased plan to eliminate excision by 2008. The first phase, scheduled for 1999-2004, is one of education and dissemination of information. The second phase, scheduled for 2004-08 is projected to adopt legislation and legally enforce such ordinances. (Feb. 2000, sect. 5)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


The Nation [Nairobi]. 11 November 1999. "Kenya; Mothers in Dire Straits after 'Cut'." (NEXIS/ANews.

Association malienne pour le progrès et la défense des droits des femmes maliennes (APDFM), Bamako. 28 March 2000. Telephone interview with the president.

Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP). November 1999. "Mali Adolescents: Early parenthood [Does not Equal] More Choice." (NEXIS)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. February 2000. http://www.state.gov/www/global/hu...ights/1999_hrp_report/congodr.html. [Accessed date: 27 Mar. 2000].

Sunday Telegraph. 5 March 2000. Sexton D. "The Art: Unacceptable Cuts Radio." (NEXIS)