Somalia May Soon Ban The Horrible Practice Of Female Genital Mutilation

A practice performed on 98 percent of girls there.

Fatima, a young mother in Somalia whose name had been changed by UNICEF, can recall the experience of her circumcision perfectly.

Her mother told her to change her dress and take a shower, because she would be circumsized like everyone else. The 6-year-old didn't know what the meant, but she would soon come to find out the trauma and pain that her own culture forced her to endure. 

"If it was up to me, I would say: 'Don't do this to your daughters,' but I'm afraid society would not accept. My mother knows there are problems, but she believes it is a rule. She thinks it is shameful to live with the genital area open. She will always insist that we have to close it,'" she told Maggie Black, who reported Fatima's story for UNICEF.

About 98 percent of Somalian girls are subject to female genital mutilation, or the act of removing the female genitalia, between the ages of 4 and 11. Fatima was one of many that undergo a practice not only traumatic, but harmful to women's health. 

But according to Somali news outlet Horseed Media, a new law may be put in place to ban the practice altogether. Sahra Mohammed Ali Samatar, minister of Women Affairs, announced the news at a conference. 

‘’Time has come for us to eradicate this bad practice and protect the rights of girls and women in our country,’’ she said.

Enough Project/Flickr
Enough Project/Flickr

Somalia would follow Nigeria who outlawed the practice early this June thanks to the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 passed in the Nigerian Senate in May. 

News of the ban has also come after U.S. President Barack Obama visited his country of paternal ancestry, where he urged government leaders to prioritize women's health and human rights. 

"Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is, but just because something is part of your past doesn't make it right; it doesn't mean it defines your future," he said. 

Hopefully, they were listening.

Cover image via Frank Keillor/Flickr.

(H/T: The Huffington Post)