Somalia, 31 July 2014: Testimonies on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
31 July 2014 – Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is the cutting, partial or total removal, of the external female genitalia. Somalia has one of the highest prevalence rates of female circumcision in the world. In a recent survey, 98 per cent of women said they had undergone the process, which is performed by traditional practitioners using a knife or razor blade on girls from as young as four onwards. As a results, girls die due to excessive bleeding, infections or complications later in life during child birth.
Since 1996, UNICEF has approached FGM/C in Somalia from religious, medical, community and cultural perspectives. UNICEF has worked with religious leaders to help dispel the widespread misconception that it is an Islamic expectation and duty.
Under the UNFPA–UNICEF Joint Programme, child protection committees and advocates have engaged community members and stakeholders in meetings on FGM/C abandonment in Puntland and Somaliland. The Programme has provided technical assistance to line ministries, and has brought together authorities, religious leaders, youth, educators, women and men to discuss and reach consensus on ending FGM/C.
So far several communities have come forward to collectively denounce FGM/C but they will need continuous awareness to sustain and implement such declarations. In Puntland, Muslim leaders passed a religious ruling banning all forms of FGM/C which was followed by a Presidential Decree in 2014. In 2012, the new Somali Constitution outlawed all forms of FGM/C and a policy to end FGM/C has been finalized in north-western Somalia.
A growing change in attitude has also been noticed among young Somali men who, unlike in the past, are increasingly now willing to marry girls who are not circumcised. This is helping to dispel the fear that uncircumcised girls cannot get married.