Day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilation in Somaliland

On Monday 6th of February, Somaliland’s Sahil region joined the rest of the world in celebrating the day of ‘Zero tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM)’. Across the region events were coordinated in collaboration with existing community based organisations, local authorities and the community.

Two billboards in the large port city of Berbera displayed messages welcoming International day of ‘Zero Tolerance of FGM’. Health Poverty Action facilitated a community meeting at which participants could freely discuss issues of FGM.  Speeches were made by government and health representatives as well Health Poverty Action, who has been pivotal in the raising awareness about the dangers of FGM. Nearly half of the participants for the day’s activities were young girls under the age of 15, many of whom had themselves been cut. The hope is that by targeting these girls before they reach reproductive age, we can discourage them from supporting the cutting of their own daughters.  Towards the end of the day, a local drama team presented a play, poems and songs to discourage the practice of FGM.

In the mountainous town of Sheikh, Health Poverty Action and its local partners held a ceremony for the local community where they provided a series of speeches on the issues of FGM. A local drama group performed anti-FGM songs and a role play, illustrating not only the health risks and the consequent financial burden that FGM places on the family, but also dispelling myths that FGM is a religious practice.

What people had to say…

“We all know the multiple health problems that face circumcised women. So we all have to fight to stop FGM. FGM deforms the nature of ladies creation.” Health Poverty Action partner.

“We have to measure whether FGM is of benefit or harm to our ladies? We need to educate our mothers, fathers, and our community that FGM is not a matter of culture or religion. In the Qur’an there is no single verse supporting FGM”. Regional Governor’s office representative

“Both men and women should now be involved in stopping all FGM. Somaliland has a national plan to reach zero level of FGM over the coming 5 years.” Representative from the Ministry of Planning