The reality for girls in Somalia has been particularly grim over the past few months as there has been a frightening chain of confirmed deaths of young girls resulting from FGM/C, and numerous others still fighting for their lives in hospitals- robbing them of their right to a healthy and dignified childhood.
On 17th September 2018, 10-year-old Mumtaz Qorane lost her young life to complications from FGM/C, making her the third female child to die of the practice that week. Two sisters, Asiya Farah Abdi Warsame (10yrs) and Khadija Farah Abdi Warsame (11yrs) had died two days earlier, from excessive bleeding after they were cut in a remote village of Arawda, Somalia.
Several hospitals in Goldogob and Beletweyne are awash with young girls, from ages as young as four, clinging to their lives and battling the excruciating pain, physical and psychological, brought on by FGM.
Despite all efforts by the government (Article 15(4) & 29(2) of the 2012 Constitution of Somalia) and other civil society organizations to combat the practice, it is still strongly woven into the fabric of Somali culture. The Horn of Africa has the highest prevalence of FGM in its most severe forms. Types I and II generally account for 80-85% of FGM cases, while overall more than 90% of girls aged 4-11 undergo genital mutilation across the Somali region.
“FGM/C violates the rights to health, security and physical integrity of the girls as well as the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment, torture and cruelty, and the right to life when the procedure results in death,” says Fadwo Hassan, Chair lady Women and Child Cluster, a SIHA Network member.
As SIHA, we are of the view that Female Genital Mutilation is an ancient tradition. There is no evidence from religious sources that prove that it is an obligation. According to the Regional Director of SIHA Network – Ms. Hala Al-Karib, the persistence of FGM is directly linked to the rise of women’s subordination as a result of the spread of extremist and repressive political Islam which continues to gain its legitimacy across traditional communities through the monopolization of women’s bodies and the suppression of women engaged in the public sphere. As SIHA, we call on FGM activists to continue fighting for a society that is free of FGM.
Call to Action:
SIHA strongly urges the Somali government to quicken its steps in passing the drafted National Female Genital Mutilation Bill (2016), “a law to prevent, prohibit, and punish female genital mutilation offences and for connected purposes.”
SIHA continues to urge the government of Somalia to adopt and integrate the Sexual Offences Bill (Anti-Rape law) into an effective civil law. These steps will empower women and girls, and largely contribute to ending all forms of FGM.
We continue to urge the government of Somalia to take steps towards criminalizing all forms of violence against women and girls and invest in empowering women at the grassroots.