Somalia’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Human rights has announced that it is planning to introduce a new law banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) nationwide.
Sahra Mohammed Ali Samatar, Minister of Women Affairs, announced in a conference held in Mogadishu concerning ways of eradicating this practice.
“Time has come for us to eradicate this bad practice and protect the rights of girls and women in our country,” She said.
FGM is thought to affect up to 140 million women and girls, and is recognised as a violation of human rights.
Female Genital Mutilation violates the basic rights of women and girls and seriously compromises their health, posing risks during childbirth, and leaving lasting physical and psychological scars, health experts have said.
About 98% of Somali women aged 15-49 have experienced FGM, according to data released by the UN children’s agency, Unicef.
The practice is regarded by Somalia’s new constitution as “torture.” Article 15 (4) of the Provisional Constitution stipulates: “Circumcision of girls is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.”
However, there is no specific law against female circumcision, and the practice remains widespread in both rural and urban areas in this Horn of Africa nation.
Last year, the autonomy state Puntland banned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation from its regions, a move which was widely welcomed.