The Rising Case of Female Genital Mutilation
FGM is internationally recognized as a human rights violation of girls and women. It is carried out primarily on young girls between infancy and age 15, thereby violating the rights of children, the right to health, security, and physical integrity.
There are over 200 million girls and women who have gone through this cruel, inhuman experience in at least 30 countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia; the countries with a major concentration of FGM.
However, COVID 19 reportedly led to a decline in the rate of FGM across countries, leaving Somalia.
Plan International’s Head of Mission in Somalia, Sadia Abdi Allin said, “FGM is one of the most extreme manifestations of violence against girls.”She further added the cruel act has increased in pandemic-induced lockdown so much so that the preachers of FGM are now going door to door to carry out the heinous operation. She said, “They knocked on my own [door] asking if I have girls to cut, and it was such a shock for me because I haven’t seen that for years.”
Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice has no health benefits for girls and women. FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. (Female Female Female Female Female Genital Mutilation, WHO)
“They knocked on my own [door] asking if I have girls to cut, and it was such a shock for me because I haven’t seen that for years.”- Sadia Abdi Allin
Somalia has the highest rate of FGM in the world, nearly 98% of its women have been cut. The situation is already dismal and it is becoming worse day by day. Parents who believe in a certain faith where FGM is propagated are seeing the lockdown as an opportunity to have it done, and there are no laws operational to protect the girls.
Allin points out girls who undergo FGM turns out to be timid and shy. The problem doesn’t end here, in fact it acts as an ignition to a lifelong silence. “When women are silenced from a very young age, then the expectation for a woman to become a leader, to be educated, to be economically powerful, is absolutely zero,” Allin said.
“When women are silenced from a very young age, then the expectation for a woman to become a leader, to be educated, to be economically powerful, is absolutely zero” – Sadia Abdi Allin
Recently, Sudan criminalized FGM, which gave hope to the likes of Allin and others. Though it raised other pertinent questions such as who will be criminalized? Parents or those who carry out the operation? How will the government ensure its implementation?
Hala-al- Karib of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa said, “randomly, they come up with this announcement about criminalizing FGM and it worries us as women’s rights activists, as feminists. Because who are they going to criminalize? They aren’t going to criminalize the men who are actually behind female genital mutilation.” She further added how FGM is a symptom of an even deeper problem — the unequal status of women.
These silent cries of young girls yearn for justice, and it won’t be realized until the root cause of the practice is annihilated: traditional circumcisers.
Featured image: AP Photo/Jean-Marc Bouju/News Decoder