Regional authority in Somalia introduces an official policy to end FGM/C
14 March 2014 Garowe - UNICEF has welcomed the decision by the President of Puntland in north east Somalia to approve an official Government policy to support the outlawing of all forms of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C).
Puntland’s President, Abdiweli Mohamed Gas, signed the policy on International Women’s Day – 8 March. The policy was approved by the Cabinet in December 2013
UNICEF through the Joint UNICEF/UNFPA Program and the Joint Health and Nutrition Program supported Puntland’s Ministry of Women, Family and Social Affairs to develop the anti-FGM/C policy along with other Ministries, Parliamentarians, civil society and religious leaders.
The policy states that it aims for: “Total abandonment of FGM/C practices in the Puntland through effective Government FGM/C abandonment strategies and approaches for sustainable behaviour change at the family and at the society levels.”
It will include working with religious leaders and health professionals, sensitizing the community, using the media, providing access to quality reproductive health services and generation of reliable FGM/C data.
A Committee will oversee the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and strategies for the abandonment of FGM/C.
The Puntland Government passed a law in 2011 banning the most extreme forms of FGM/C. In 2013 Islamic scholars in Puntland issued a religious decree ‘fatwa’ banning FGM saying it had no basis in Islam. Activists now hope that legislation will be passed banning all forms of FGM/C.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is widespread in Somalia – 98% of women have undergone the procedure which is a social and cultural convention. Girls often suffer major health problems as a result of FGM/C including severe bleeding, bacterial infection, and later in life recurrent infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. Girls are often forced to leave school after undergoing FGM/C due to health reasons or because they are seen as being ready for marriage.
Puntland is the first region in Somalia to adopt an anti FGM/C policy. It is also banned under the current draft Constitution of the Federal Government of Somalia. A draft decree outlawing FGM/C in Somaliland is awaiting consensus from religious leaders and will then be presented to the cabinet for approval.
“I hope the day will come soon when all girls and young women in Puntland are spared this terrible ordeal and the authorities in the other areas will quickly follow the example of Puntland,” said UNICEF Somalia Deputy Representative, Foroogh Foyouzat.