Ban on Female Genital Cutting in Somaliland is progress, but success relies on working with religious leaders
Somaliland, the unrecognized self-governing region of Somalia, is known for two things: its relatively stable government, and its staggering rate of female genital cutting (FGC). In early February authorities in the Somaliland Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a fatwa against FGC and stated that victims should be compensated. The fatwa was issued on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation,* and parliament is expected to vote on a bill outlawing the practice in the coming months.
While this fatwa and the legal force it carries is an excellent step to eliminate FGC in Somaliland, it is by no means a comprehensive solution. An estimated 98 percent of women 15 to 49 in the republic have undergone the procedure. Predating Christianity and Islam, FGC is a deeply entrenched cultural practice reinforced by economic, political, and social structures across the Middle East and North Africa, effecting 200 million women worldwide.
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