According to UNICEF, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Somalia is 98%. 63% of girls experienced infibulation. About 80% girls were cut between the ages of 5 and 14 and 33% of girls and women think the practise of FGM/C should end.
Terre des Femmes notes that both traditional practitioners and medical professionals perform FGM/C in Somalia. The most common reason for practising FGM/C is the belief that the practise is prescribed by religion. Furthermore, it is believed that FGM/C makes a girl chaste, preserves her virginity before marriage, improves her marriage prospects and is aesthetically pleasing.
In 2012 Somalia banned ‘circumcision of girls’ in Article 15 (4) of its new Constitution. Somalia acceded to the ICESCR in 1990, has not signed CEDAW, but signed the CRC in 2002 and ratified the Banjul Charter in 1985.
See also 28 Too Many’s country profile on Somalia.
FGM/C Country of Origin Expert for Somalia
Dr Zaheera Jinnah
Dr Zaheera Jinnah is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, and a research associate at the African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. She has a decade of experience as a researcher in migration and refugee studies in Africa, and has published extensively in this area. Her research interests focus on Somalia, gender and FGM.
Prof Marianne Sarkis
Professor Marianne Sarkis founded and continues to direct the FGM Education and Networking Project, an outreach project and information clearinghouse on FGM/C which has been in existence since 1995. Professor Sarkis’ research in Massachusetts focuses on the intersection of culture and biomedicine in women’s reproductive experiences, especially those who have resettled or emigrated from FGM/C-producing countries. Her community-based participatory research has allowed her to engage in respectful yet transformative community dialogues about the implications of abandoning FGM/C on cultural continuity and identity. She has served as a consultant for physicians, nurses, public health practitioners and ethics committees at hospitals in Florida and in Massachusetts to identify best practices in providing care to women who have undergone FGM/C. In 2010, Dr Sarkis was invited to participate at a Briefing at the NGO Relations Cluster of the Department of Public Information at the United Nations in New York City.
Dr Sarkis has provided expert testimonies on behalf of women who were either at risk of experiencing FGM/C once they returned home or persecution because they belonged to minority clans. She has extensive experience in the history and current status of clan relations in Somalia, gender roles and expectations in kinship, majority-minority clan relations, and the pressure to conform that women face at home and after resettlement. Dr Sarkis has provided testimonies on behalf of women from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Djibouti. However, her primary expertise is in Somalia, especially among the dominant and minority clans (Somali and Somali Bantus). Dr Sarkis is assistant professor of international development and social change at Clark University in Worcester, MA.
Anti-FGM/C Organisations in Somalia
Edna Adan Maternity Hospital
A very important goal is to fight the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is endemic throughout the region.