Interventions to stop female genital cutting and the evolution of the custom: Evidence on age at cutting in Senegal

Giulia Camilotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Legal sanctions and awareness campaigns are increasingly used to try to reduce female genital cutting (FGC). In this article, I show that these interventions against FGC, rather than leading to the abandonment of the practice, can have unintended and potentially harmful effects on the way FGC is performed. Using DHS data from Senegal, I find that girls born in a year and a region where the law against FGC has been legally enforced are cut almost one year earlier. No significant effect of the law is found on the prevalence of FGC. Using a unique dataset from the region of Kolda in Senegal, I find a decreasing trend in age at cutting after the year of the introduction of the lawsanctioning FGC. In both cases, I interpret the decrease in age as the result of a process of de-ritualisation and individualisation of FGC due to the push towards the secrecy of the practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberejv013
Pages (from-to)133-158
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of African Economies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2015



  • Age at cutting
  • Female genital cutting
  • Legal sanctions

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