The Federal Government of Somalia has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender violence are eliminated.
The pledge was made at a forum held in the Somali Capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday and attended by women leaders from all over Somalia, officials from the federal government, representatives from regional states, religious leaders, legislators, clan elders and members of civil society.
Presentations at the forum illustrated the dangers faced by women and girls who have undergone the practice. Somalia has the highest FGM prevalence rates in the world, standing at 98%.
“We need to specifically fight FGM. We need an enabling law. We should be specific about FGM and not mix it up with circumcision in general,” said Somalia’s attorney general Ali Dahir.
He emphasised that Somalia needed to develop home-grown solutions to eradicate retrogressive practices, arguing that adopting policies from outside Somalia may be counterproductive in the fight against FGM.
The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights and the Office of the Prime Minister in conjunction with the Ifrah Foundation, with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
It was officially opened by the deputy minister of Women and Human Rights, Mumina Sheikh Omar.
“The Constitution bars circumcision in general, but does not specify which type. Since the Constitution we have in place is still provisional, Sharia takes precedence,” said Omar.
“Let us follow Sharia law, but you can discuss and give us your views,” the deputy minister told participants at the forum.
Calls for a complete end to the age-old practice was strongly supported by the minister of religious affairs, Abdulkahdir Sheikh Ali Baghdad, who said FGM was a cultural practice that had no place in Islam.
AMISOM gender officer, Mane Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of AMISOM, reiterated the mission’s commitment to supporting efforts to end the practice, which is deeply entrenched in Somali culture.
According to Ifrah Ahmed, the Founder of the Ifrah Foundation, the conveners of the meeting, intense lobbying for legislation against FGM would continue.
She said her organisation would work with the Ministry of Women and Human Rights and partners such as AMISOM, to ensure appropriate legislation was passed.
AMISOM has been at the forefront of supporting efforts that promote human rights in Somalia and is working with the government and other partners to enhance the human rights of Somalis.
– African News Agency (ANA)