Type of FGM procedure

Type of FGM procedure

Type of FGM procedure


The proportion of women aged 15-49 who underwent each of three defined types of female genital mutilation (FGM):

  • Genital area was nicked, but no flesh removed
  • Any flesh was removed from the genital area
  • The genital area was sewn closed

Three different measures are obtained to capture this information.

This indicator is calculated as:

(Women aged 15-49 who report undergoing one type of FGM / All women aged 15-49 who report undergoing FGM in the survey)

Data Requirement(s):

Type of mutilation performed among women who have experienced FGM. It is important to use locally adapted wording to identify each of the three descriptions. Three different proportions will result, unless one or two types are not reported at all in a given area. The three proportions added together should cover all women who underwent FGM, but some women may fall into two categories (those who had flesh removed and those whose genital area was sewn closed, since the latter procedure includes the former). Each numerator includes cut women who report that they have undergone a particular procedure and should be divided by the same denominator, which is the entire survey population of women who report FGM.

Data can be disaggregated by age, region, ethnicity and religion.

A population-based survey, such as the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), health care facility or provider reports

The indicator measures the prevalence of each type of genital mutilation, per the physical descriptions of mutilation given, in the survey area. Researchers found that using a traditional classification system (e.g., the WHO classification system of Types I, II and III) led to low reliability of estimates among women. The descriptive classification listed ensures higher reliability in women’s reports. By tracking this indicator over time, particularly among 15–19-year-olds, it helps reveal if progress has been made in eliminating the most harmful types of FGM.

The denominator of this indicator relies on self-reported FGM status, which may or may not be valid. The numerator also depends on women being able and willing to describe the procedure performed on them. Research has shown that the validity of the response varies by context. Several researchers have reported that FGM is under-reported, but many of these studies refer to specific types of FGM rather than ever having undergone an FGM procedure or not. In some countries, where FGM has been legally banned, women may be likely to avoid reporting that they are cut due to fear of legal ramifications. In areas where there have been campaigns to end the practice, women may be reluctant to report having undergone FGM and/or what type of mutilation was performed due to a perceived stigma associated with the practice. In regions where FGM is widely practiced, socially accepted, and few interventions are in place to prompt people to question its acceptability and legality, the self-reported responses tend to be valid. In other regions, self-reported responses should be interpreted with caution.

Questions to determine the type of FGM are sensitive and may be perceived as invasive or re-traumatizing. Survey implementers should be trained to handle the collection of this information. Some interventions may be able to obtain data from healthcare providers or facility reports to avoid recall bias and the invasive nature of the survey questions.

UNFPA. 2023. Female Genital Mutilation. Indicators data portal. New York, NY.

Measuring effectiveness of female genital mutilation elimination: A compendium of Indicators. Prepared and published by UNFPA and UNICEF on behalf of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the elimination of female genital mutilation: Accelerating Change, 2020.

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