Somalia: Ban on FGM/C Will Require Action for Effective Implementation
Monday, September 10, 2012 1:45 PM

The new Somali constitution contains a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) but in a country where 96 percent of women undergo FGM, enforcement of the ban will require a strenuous effort. According to Fatima Jibrell, a women's advocate, It will require “education, awareness-raising and strong legal provisions. Without this, the provision will be little more than ink on a piece of paper”.

The most common type of FGM/C in Somalia is one of the most extreme forms of the practice, known as infibulation, or type III. According to the World Health Organization, it involves “removal of part or all of the external genitalia (clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora) and stitching and/or narrowing of the vaginal opening.” Approximately 100 – 140 million girls, including 92 million in Africa, experience FGM/C. Girls and women who have undergone the procedure risk severe bleeding, infection and infertility. Another potential side effect is obstetric complications, including postpartum hemorrhage and infant mortality. Research also suggests that girls who have undergone FGM/C are more likely to have mental health disorders,including post-traumatic stress disorder.

It will be particularly difficult to end the practice in Somalia where women are often considered ineligible for marriage if they have not undergone the practice. It is also seen as a religious requirement, making women pure and reducing their sexual libido.  For the ban to be effective it will require community empowerment programs, raising awareness of the health effects and disconnecting it from Islam, which does not require FGM.

Compiled from: Somalia: Activists Laud Ban On FGM/C, Say Implementation Will Require More,” IRIN (August 22, 2012)