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Somalia will soon ban FGM, Human Rights Minister says

Storyline:National News

Female Genital Mutilation could soon be declared illegal in Somalia if a proposals for an anti-FGM law by the ministry of Gender and Human Rights is tabled in Parliament.

Women Affairs and Human Rights Minister Sahro Mohamed Samatar told a conference in Mogadishu today there is a consensus from government, civil society and religious organisations on the need to ban Female Genital Mutilation, FGM in Somalia.

“Somali government is ready to eradicate this bad practice (FGM) and to protect the rights and dignity of our girls and women.  The government, Somali Clerics Association and the Civil Society have all agreed to jointly fight this practice by introducing an anti-FGM law,” said Sahro.

The Minister said her ministry will in the next week introduce a bill to parliament which seeks to outlaw the practice.

Her sentiments were echoed by the spokesman of Somali Clerics Association who said there was no place for FGM in Islam and therefore an urgent need to outlaw the practice in the country. “Our religion compels whoever performs a genital mutilation on a girl to compensate her and the same person must also be punished,” said Sheikh Baruud.

Somalia’s Provisional Constitution, which was adopted in 2012, bans FGM and states the practice amounts to torture. Article 15 guarantees people’s rights of liberty and security, “Every person has the right to physical integrity and cannot be violated. Article 15 (4) is more categorical thus: Female circumcision is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.

However a legislation on FGM is likely to face an uphill task given the entrenched cultural practice among Somali communities. The World Health Organisation estimates the prevalence rates of FGM in Somalia at 97.9%.