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A call for collective effort to stop Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)

As the world marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM/C zero tolerance to FGM/C, we in ActionAid Somaliland are calling on the government of Somaliland, the traditional and religious leaders, health practitioners, parents and the young people to stand up, join forces and fight against FGM/C.

Despite many years of advocacy and working with communities and at national level, women and girls in Africa still go through this practice. The challenge in eliminating Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting is enormous with the reproductive health being a major concern in Somaliland. The maternal mortality ratio of 1,044 per 100,000 live births places Somali women among the most high-risk groups in the world. "Somaliland has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world, estimated to be between 10,443 and 14,004 per 100,000 live births," reported Ettie Higgins, the 2012 head of UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) field office in Hargeisa, Somaliland. According to the latest UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA estimates, one out of every 12 women dies due to pregnancy related causes.

Maternal mortality is mainly caused by hemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, eclampsia(toxemia that may occur in late pregnancy and obstructed labor. Higgins said, adding that women in Somaliland had a one in 15 risk of dying of maternal-related causes.

 The Guardian affirmed this by reporting Somalia to be among the top five worst countries in the world for women. The Government of Somaliland has shown commitment and is driving forward antiFGM/C bill. However, it is difficult to achieve this if some sections of the society believe it is validated in Islam.

ActionAid Somaliland is therefore calling for a collective effort and society - wide intervention in fighting this harmful practice.

We call on religious leaders to come forward and openly discuss about the Islamic perspective on FGM/C and be the champions in advocating for the respect and protection of women and girls against such practices.

We call on young people to stand up and be heard in this fight against FGM/C.

We call on fathers and mothers to prevent their daughters from the immense physical and psychological trauma they themselves underwent.

We call on health practitioners to resist the pressure to engage in FGM/C. They have first-hand evidence on the  effect of this practice on the girls and women.

We call on community leaders to discuss the issue with their communities, so that people are able to talk about it in public, to discuss its negative consequences and work together to protect women’s rights.

Finally, we call on the government to address the larger issue of women’s status in the family and economy, their access to education and health services and the overall social norms that support the practice of FGM through education and public awareness-raising.

The government should also accelerate and finalize policies and laws on anti-FGM and anti-medicalization.

ActionAid Somaliland with its partners commit to build solidarity amongst groups whose basic human rights are being violated, raise their consciousness of this violation and of their rights, and build their capacity and confidence to enter into dialogue with relevant stakeholders to demand and ultimately to secure their rights.

Mohamed Sani YakubuInterim Country DirectorActionAid Somaliland