Facts and figures
FGM first emerged in France as a result of the migration of practising African communities. The issue became the subject of public debate in 1982, when a baby, Bobo Traoré, died as a result of the procedure. Since 2000, the number of cases of FGM has gradually fallen, especially those carried out in France (Andro & Lesclingand, 2007). However, under-18s from practising communities remain at risk, particularly teenage girls—especially those travelling to parents’ country of origin (CNCDH, 2013, §17).
According to a study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), France is the top country of asylum for FGM-affected women and girls (Schirrmesiter, 2013). Between 2008 and 2011, over 20% of female asylum-seekers in France came from FGM-practising countries. The most recent figures available indicate that countries in which FGM is most prevalent accounted for the highest number of individuals seeking asylum in 2012 (OFPRA, 2014, p. 53). Almost 4,000 girls benefitted from protective status in France against the risks of FGM by end-2014 (OFPRA, 2014, p. 35).
In the 1980s, it was estimated that 80% of mothers from FGM-practising countries had been mutilated, with a further 70% of girls mutilated or at risk (CNCDH, 2013, §15). By 2004, the number of mutilated adult women residing in France was estimated at 53,000 (Andro & Lesclingand, 2009, p. 2-3).1)Based on an average of 42,000 women born in an FGM-risk country arriving in France after the age of 15, and 61,000 women born in Europe to families from FGM-risk countries of origin A 2007-09 Excision et Handicap (ExH) survey estimated that 11% of girls whose came parents from FGM-practising countries had been subjected to the procedure, of which 3% were born in France and 45% in a country with a high prevalence of FGM, mainly countries of West Africa, especially Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry and Mauritania (Andro & Lesclingand, 2009). A further three girls in ten were deemed to be at risk of excision.2)Survey of girls up to the age of 15 and not mutilated at the time of the survey, based on the stated intentions of the father and mother
Data collected by France’s Maternal and Child Protection Centres indicate that the problem of FGM is not limited to the departments of the Greater Paris Region, which are most affected, but extends to other areas—in particular the regions of Normandy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, PACA, Nord–Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, Centre-Poitou-Charente, Pays-de-la-Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées and, to a lesser extent, Brittany and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Gillette-Faye, 1998 and 2016).
Neither national surveys on violence against women (ENVEFF, 2000) nor administrative and legal statistics (reporting, filing of complaints, etc.) collect data on FGM, resulting in a lack of up-to-date figures. However, the ongoing VIRAGE survey of violence against women does cover FGM, and is expected to contribute to a much fuller picture of the situation in France.
Main affected populations
There is general agreement among anthropologists, ethnologists and sociologists that between the 1980s and 2000, FGM in France mainly concerned the Soninke community. However, many other FGM-practising communities now live in France, reflecting the fact that FGM is practised in many regions of the world ((Gillette-Faye, 2016, p. 3).