Despite efforts, Somalia has highest rate of FGM in the world

Somalia continues to have the highest rate of FGM in the world, a customary practice which is a violation of human rights, and more specifically, a violation of the rights of the child, given that it is predominantly practiced on adolescent girls, an anti FGM campaign group said.

Somalia’s government has earlier banned the female genital mutilation, one of the country’s longest existing practices, a move campaigners said was hugely important which can help protecting women’s human rights – however, experts warned that the practice could end in a generation.

Marking the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, a UN-sponsored awareness day that takes place on February 6 each year, the Somalia Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), which includes the EU, its Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the US reiterated recommendations made during Somalia’s 2011 UPR to prohibit and criminalise the practice of FGM.

“The HRWG calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia to unreservedly accept these recommendations and take concrete steps to ensure their effective implementation.” The campaign group said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Thousands of girls undergo the FGM in Somalia every year; however UNICEF says there’s a widespread ignorance of the dangers of the ancient ritual, which can be fatal and can cause life-long health problems.

However, the HRWG group urged Somali government to actively engage in the further development of its national legal framework, including the adoption of the Draft FGM Bill and the creation and implementation of a national action plan, to ensure that the practice of FGM is effectively eliminated.

According to UNICEF, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has prevalence in Somalia. About 95 per cent is primarily performed on girls between the ages of four and 11. This traditional practice is embedded deep within Somali culture, and the belief is widely held that FGM is necessary to “cleanse” a girl child. In some communities, girls cannot be married without it.