Friday July 20, 2018
A 10-year-old girl in central
Somalia has died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM),
prompting calls from campaigners to criminalise the internationally
condemned practice in a country with the world's highest rates.
The girl was taken by her mother to a traditional circumciser on July
14. The procedure left her bleeding and she died in hospital due to a
haemorrhage two days later.
"The circumciser is suspected to have cut an important vein in the
course of the operation," said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the
Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD), a local
women's rights group.
"The woman who performed the operation has not been arrested but even
if she was, there is no law that would ensure she is punished for the
act. This is just one among many cases happening on a daily basis across
An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone
FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the female
genitalia and can cause a host of serious health problems, says the
The ancient ritual - practised in at least 27 African countries and
parts of Asia and the Middle East - is usually carried out by
traditional cutters, often using unsterilised blades or knives.
Health experts say FGM can cause fatal childbirth complications later
in life. In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections
following the procedure, although it is hidden within communities and
Located in eastern Africa and troubled by decades of civil war,
Somalia has the world's highest rates of FGM. According to the UN, 98
percent of women between 15 and 49 have been subjected to the ritual.
Somalia's constitution prohibits FGM, but efforts to pass legislation
to punish offenders have been stalled by parliamentarians afraid of
losing powerful Muslim vote banks who support FGM and view it as a part
of their tradition.
Campaigners say a lot of work needs to be done to help people
understand the harmful effects of FGM, and criminalising the practice
could act as a strong deterrent.
"Pro-FGM lobbyists sometimes put forward the nonsensical view that it
is not harmful, which is completely untrue," said Brendan Wynne at
Donor Direct Action, an international women's groups which helps fund
"We have no more time for any debate on the harms of FGM and this
case, like many others, proves that. FGM will only end when governments
take a hard line and protect girls at risk."