Somaliland issues fatwa banning female genital mutilation

Students attend classes at a secondary school in the coastal town of Berbera in Somaliland. Somaliland has issued a fatwa banning female genital mutilation. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018

Somaliland issues fatwa banning female genital mutilation

NEW DELHI: Somaliland has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning female genital mutilation (FGM) - and paving the way for the breakaway region to pass legislation against the internationally condemned practice, a senior official said on Wednesday.
The fatwa from the ministry of religious affairs on Tuesday said those who perform FGM would face punishment, and victims would be eligible for compensation. It did not provide details on the severity of punishment, or the amount of compensation.
"The reason that this harmful practice has existed for so long is that people believe it is because our religion or culture dictates that we should do it," said Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland's representative in Britain.
"The fatwa is basically a message from the government to everyone in Somaliland that there is no religious or cultural basis for FGM," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The practice - which involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia - is almost universal in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia.
The Horn of Africa nation has the world's highest rate of FGM, according to the United Nations.
An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which can cause serious physical and mental health problems.
Mahamoud said the religious ban - which coincided with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM - was timely as it comes weeks before a bill outlawing the practice is expected to before parliament.
Many families in Somaliland believe it is a religious obligation although it is not mentioned in the Koran. It is widely considered important for ensuring a girl's purity and a prerequisite to marriage.
The ancient ritual is usually carried out by traditional cutters, often using unsterilised blades or knives.
The fatwa pertains to the most severe form of FGM called infibulation, where the external genitalia are removed and the vaginal opening sewn or sealed closed. It is the most common type of FGM performed in Somaliland.
Women's rights activists, who have fought for decades to end FGM, welcomed the move but said the struggle was not over yet.
"It took us 42 years to reach this day, but, this is not the end of the battle," tweeted Edna Adan, a leading anti-FGM campaigner in Somaliland.
"FGM must be completely eradicated in my country and everywhere in the world."


Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

Updated 24 October 2020

Suicide bomber kills 18 in Afghan capital

  • There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country
  • The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict

KABUL: A suicide bomber struck near an education centre in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 18 people in the latest attack to rock the conflict-wracked country.
Violence on the ground has spiked in recent weeks despite the Taliban and the Afghan government holding peace talks in Qatar to end the country's grinding war.
The suicide attack, which also wounded 57, happened late afternoon at the centre, which offers training and courses for students in higher education in a western district of Kabul.
"A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre," Tareq Arian, spokesman for the interior ministry, said in a statement.
"But he was identified by the centre's guards after which he detonated his explosives in an alley."
He said the attack had left at least 18 people dead and 57 wounded.
"I was standing about 100 metres from the centre when a big blast knocked me down," said local resident Ali Reza, who had gone to hospital with his cousin who was wounded in the blast.
"Dust and smoke was all around me. All those killed and wounded were students who wanted to enter the centre."
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.
Residents in several districts of western Kabul belong to the minority Shiite Hazara community, often targeted by Daesh militants. 
In the past, extremists have targeted several education centres and other facilities in the area.
In May, a group of gunmen launched a brazen daylight attack on a hospital in west Kabul that left several mothers dead. The gunmen were shot dead after hours of fighting with security forces.