Somalia: Religious Leaders Join Efforts to Combat FGM
Monday, June 13, 2011 10:30 AM

High-ranking officials and religious leaders in Somalia have begun to speak out against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). UNICEF and UNFPA began working with influential religious leaders in 2009 and, through dialogue with prominent international Islamic scholars, Somali religious leaders have agreed that FGM is not a religious obligation and that the practice is not justified in the Quran.

The 2010 dialogues between Sheikhs and Imams have led to several public denouncements of the practice by religious leaders across Somaliland and Puntland last month. At a large gathering on June 3rd in Hargeisa, Somali First Lady Amina Waris spoke about the necessity of changing the attitudes of young men in order to eradicate the practice of FGM, as girls who have undergone the procedure continue to be preferred for marriage. Sheikh Khalil also called upon young men to work to protect women and girls, and he also addressed the widely held belief that Islamic Doctrine justifies FGM. He stated: "it is very clear that the holy Quran does not support FGM/C in any way. I call upon all the religious leaders wherever they are to join hands to protect our daughters and women from having their organs cut." The Minister of Religious Affairs also stated that he will support all efforts to eradicate FGM, including the establishment of the Religious Leaders Network Against FGM.

UNICEF and UNFPA are using this public dialogue approach in order to develop a legal structure that will eradicate the practice entirely. For now, UNICEF and UNFPA continue to hold public dialogues to spread knowledge about FGM and they are also working to make sure the participating Imams and Sheikhs continue to denounce FGM. 


Compiled From: Charity Koronya, Somali religious leaders and high-level officials join hands to put an end to all forms of FGM/C, Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), (3 June 2011).