Somaliland: Activists Denounce Female Mutilation
A growing number of
Below are extracts from an article published by Afrol:
Hargeisa, the peaceful capital of the self-proclaimed state of
A team from the Norwegian public broadcaster 'NRK' last week [17-23 June 2007] visited Hargeisa, where it easily found practitioners of the outlawed practice of FGM (also referred to as "female circumcision" or "female cutting"), which is widely condemned as strongly harmful to women and girls, also by many Muslim religious leaders.
The Somalilander women performing FGM did so privately or in open cooperation with public health facilities in Hargeisa, where most worked as midwifes. Among Somalis, female genital mutilation is very widespread and the UN estimates that 98 percent of women in Somaliland and
In most countries where the large Somali Diaspora is represented, however, FGM is strictly outlawed. Research nevertheless shows that a majority of Somali parents living abroad ignore the laws of their host country and continue exposing their daughters to this culturally based practice.
And as southern
The 'NRK' team met with ten FGM practitioners in Hargeisa saying they had performed the cut on at least 185 Somali girls living in
Based on these data, it is estimated that thousands of young girls are brought to Hargeisa each year from
While Somali parents living abroad can be taken to court for child abuse after having taken their daughters to
But there are an increasing number of Somalilander voices calling for government action against FGM. Poet and journalist Bashir Goth recently protested against the "physical torture and mutilation of women's God-given sexual organs," adding the "practice should be banned and Somaliland should join other pioneer African countries including neighbouring Djibouti in ratifying the Maputo Protocol that seeks to outlaw FGM."
Also among Somalilander health workers, there is an increased discussion about the harmful practice. Hargeisa midwife Safia Dualleh Farah, who guided the 'NRK' team, strongly objected the practices but said she understood her colleagues performing FGM. "They are cutting the girls on their spare time because they earn too little working in hospitals or health centres. They say they cannot afford to stop," she told 'NRK'.
A few women groups in Hargeisa have started to raise awareness on the harms and dangers of FGM, but little has been achieved so far. As Somaliland remains a non-recognised country, little international effort is put into fighting FGM here, contrary to for example neighbouring
The UN children agency UNICEF together with the Senegal-based women rights organisation Tostan until know have been able to arrange a few sensitising seminars in