Female genital mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has a prevalence of about 95 per cent in Somalia and is primarily performed on girls between the ages of four and 11. This traditional practice is embedded deep within Somali culture, and the belief is widely held that FGM is necessary to “cleanse” a girl child. In some communities, girls cannot be married without it.
The health consequences of FGM are both immediate and life-long. Research has shown that FGM adversely affects the physical, mental and psycho-social well being of Somali girls and women.
A sensitive, long-term approach that ensures community ownership is required to achieve consensus about eradication of FGM in Somali communities, especially when being addressed within the context of religion (Islam).
UNICEF led workshops have been successful in bringing together a large contingent of participants (official authorities, religious leaders, youth, educators, women and men) to debate, discuss, and reach consensus about total eradication of FGM.