Following the containment initiated due to the health crisis, Somalia is experiencing an alarming increase in female genital mutilation while girls are forced to stay at home.
Containment is very bad news for young Somali girls. LONG Plan International, fighting for children's rights and equal opportunities for girls, warns of so-called cutters who go door-to-door to perform female genital mutilation.
The confinement coincides with the month of Ramadan, the time when this ritual is traditionally practiced. In Somalia, around 98% of women and girls have already undergone female genital mutilation. The country also has the highest rate of excisions in the world.
"We have observed a massive increase in FGM in recent weeks (all procedures including partial or total removal of the female external genitalia)"protested Sadia Allin, head of Plan International in Somalia. "Families resort to this practice while their daughters no longer go to school and remain confined to the house. Partly because of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, circumcisers engage in these harmful livelihood activities and go door to door to sell their services. ", she adds.
Female genital mutilation includes many different rituals. They may vary according to the traditions of ethnic groups. The most serious form, called infibulation, is a practice of excising the clitoris and lips of a girl or woman and stitching up the edges of the vulva to prevent intercourse. It is mainly practiced in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia as well as in Sudan, which recently criminalized FGM, however.
During confinement, the girls stay at home and have time to recover after the intervention without missing school because the schools are closed. Parents then ask nurses to practice FGM on their daughters.
"FGM is one of the most extreme manifestations of violence against girls and women. It is lifelong torture for girls. The pain continues until the girl goes to the grave. has an impact on his education, his ambition… everything. ", says Sadia Allin, who has herself been circumcised and who has seen circumcisers knocking on her door so that her daughters will suffer the same fate.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), approximately 290,000 girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation in Somalia in the year 2020. "The Covid-19 crisis considerably weakens efforts to eradicate the practice of FGM in Somalia", indicates Plan International in his press release
UNFPA representative in Somalia, Anders Thomsen, also explains that global efforts to eradicate this practice have been set aside to focus on the coronavirus crisis. It is therefore an additional 2 million girls worldwide who could undergo this barbaric practice.
WHO estimates that about 200 million women and girls alive today have suffered some form of female genital mutilation. This practice has been documented in more than 30 countries, mainly in Africa, as well as in the Middle East and Asia.
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