10-year-old Somali girl dies after female genital mutilation

In this file photo, people attend a community meeting to discuss female genital mutilation (FGM) in a village on the outskirts of Hargeysa, Somalia. (AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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10-year-old Somali girl dies after female genital mutilation

  • A 10-year-old girl has bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation in Somalia, an activist said.
  • The girl died in a hospital two days after her mother took her to a traditional circumciser in a remote village outside Dhusamareb town in central Galmudug state.

JOHANNESBURG: A 10-year-old girl has bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation in Somalia, an activist said, a rare confirmed death in the country with the world’s highest rate of the practice.
The girl died in a hospital on Monday, two days after her mother took her to a traditional circumciser in a remote village outside Dhusamareb town in central Galmudug state, Hawa Aden Mohamed with the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development said in a statement.
“The circumciser is suspected to cut an important vein in the course of the operation,” Mohamed said.
About 98 percent of women and girls in the Horn of Africa nation undergo female genital mutilation, according to the United Nations. While Somalia’s constitution prohibits the practice, Mohamed said no laws have been enacted to ensure that those who perform the circumcisions are punished.
Lawmakers are “afraid of losing their political clout among the all-powerful conservative traditional and religious groups bent at retaining the practice,” she said.
Health workers have warned against the risks of the practice which in most cases the external genitalia is removed and the vagina is sewn almost closed.
Despite campaigns in Somalia against the practice it is “clouded in secrecy, so reducing it has been a massive challenge,” said Brendan Wynne with the New York-based Donor Direct Action, which connects women’s activists worldwide.
Over 200 million women and girls in 30 countries across three continents have experienced genital mutilation, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier this year, calling it a “gross violation of the human rights of women and girls.”
The UN Population Fund projects that the estimated 3.9 million girls subjected to genital cutting every year will rise to 4.6 million by 2030 due to expected population growth unless urgent action is taken.


Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

Updated 17 January 2019
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Vladimir Putin gets lavish welcome on visit to ally Serbia

  • Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade
  • Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership

BELGRADE, Serbia: Vladimir Putin received a hero’s welcome in ally Serbia on Thursday as the Russian president attempted to maintain political and economic influence in the Balkans, which is increasingly looking Westward.
Putin’s presidential plane was escorted over Serbian airspace by MiG-29 fighter jets he recently donated to Serbia as he arrived for the one-day visit. Church bells tolled, guns saluted and people waved Russian and Serbian flags on Putin’s route through the Serbian capital, Belgrade.
Serbia has maintained close links with traditional Slavic ally Russia despite formally seeking European Union membership. It has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine and has pledged to stay out of NATO.
Putin has recently stepped up efforts to restore Moscow’s influence in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.
Putin and his host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, praised the relationship between the two countries. Putin handed a top Russian honor to Vucic, who gave a puppy of a Serb dog breed to the Russian president.
Vucic thanked Russia for its support for Serbia’s claim over Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008, and added that “however small,” Serbia has been a “reliable partner” to Russia.
Several bilateral agreements were signed, including on the supply of Russian gas and weapons to Serbia.
On the gas, Putin said Russian companies are ready to invest about $1.4 billion into a stretch of a pipeline that would go from Turkey via EU-member Bulgaria to Serbia and then on to Hungary, “but in the end, everything will depend on other countries, including the European Union.”
Putin’s visit come as thousands have been holding weekly demonstrations against Vucic because of what they see as his autocratic rule.
Tens of thousands of Vucic’s right-wing party supporters were bused into the capital on Thursday to gather in front of the St. Sava Orthodox church, which the two presidents visited. They were chanting slogans including “Serbia-Russia, we don’t need the European Union!“
Vucic’s critics say the gathering was staged to suggest that the Serbian leader has many more supporters than opponents, who have been marching the same route since December to demand free elections and media.
Several liberal Serbian rights groups issued a statement on Thursday protesting “glorification of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.”
It said that Putin’s visit “indicates that the Serbian rulers are ready to sacrifice human rights and better living standards of citizens because of their servile attitude toward Putin’s regime.”
Russia’s interest in Serbia relates to its strategic position between East and West. Of Serbia’s eight neighbors, five are NATO members and two more are seeking membership; and four are in the EU and two more are working toward accession. Serbia remains Moscow’s only ally in the region.
Unlike NATO, Putin formally does not oppose Serbia’s EU path and analysts believe that this is because he wants a staunch ally — or perhaps a Trojan horse — within the 28-nation bloc.
Putin’s popularity in Serbia is mostly because the Kremlin is supporting Serbia in its rejection of Kosovo’s independence. In contrast, most Western countries have recognized Kosovo’s statehood.