More than 1000 community members in Hargeisa, Somaliland have committed to work towards advocating for the total abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the region. The community members made the commitment after IRADA, a local non-governmental organisation, carried out a community outreach event on May 15, 2017 at Sheikh Nur Camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Hargeisa. UNFPA Somalia provides IRADA with technical and financial support.
FGM is defined as procedures involving partial or total removal of female genitalia or other injury to female genital organs. In Somalia, 98 percent of the female population has undergone FGM and many have suffered severe adverse effects physically, mentally and psychosocially following the procedure.
The community event focused on community empowerment on the negative consequences of FGM and the importance of supporting total abandonment of the harmful practice in Somaliland.
IRADA executive director Mr. Taissir Ahmed Omar said during the event that FGM is a harmful traditional practice that has been practised for long in Somaliland despite its negative consequences
“FGM has deprived many girls of good health and dignity. We need stop this harmful practice for good,” said Mr. Omar.
Traditional drama and narrations were performed by the New Circus Somaliland, a group of traditional dancers, who facilitated the awareness through a live concert and clearly articulated the medical and social consequences of FGM.
UNFPA Somalia Youth and Gender Specialist Mr. Ahmed Abdi Jama said after the event that many participants were able to understand that FGM is a bad practice and that many supported the crusade for total abandonment of the practice.
“One community representative declared that people in Hargeisa were committed to take any necessary actions towards the elimination of the harmful practice which, they said, is a violation of human rights,” said Mr. Jama.
Sheikh Nur IDP Centre is one of the areas where IRADA and UNFPA Somalia carry out an FGM programme aiming at the declaration for the total abandonment of FGM. Community focal points including traditional elders, religious leaders and women groups from the camp have since been trained on advocating for the total abandonment of FGM.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, and it is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. Globally, it is estimated that 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM. Although FGM in declining in the majority of countries where it is prevalent, most of these are also experiencing a high rate of population growth – meaning that the number of girls who undergo FGM will continue to grow if efforts are not significantly scaled up.
To promote the abandonment of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights and gender equality. They must also address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.
UNFPA, jointly with UNICEF, leads the largest global programme to accelerate the abandonment of FGM. The programme currently focuses on 17 African countries and also supports regional and global initiatives.