Somalia: 10-year-old girl dies after genital mutilation

A 10-year-old girl, victim of genital mutilation, died of haemorrhage.

This is a rare confirmed death in this country where the practice is the most widespread in the world.

The girl died on July 14, two days after her mother took her to a traditional exciseuse in a remote village in the town of Dhusamareb, according to Reuters.

“The excisor is suspected of having cut an important vein during the operation,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD), a local advocacy women’s rights group.

“The woman who carried out the operation was not arrested and even if that happened, there is no law that would ensure that she is punished for the act. This is just one of the many cases that occur on a daily basis in Somalia,” she added.

The United Nations estimates that 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation.

This ancient ritual, practiced in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East, is usually performed by traditional circumciser using an unsterilized blade or knife.

Health experts say female genital mutilation can cause fatal complications in the future due to childbirth. In some cases, girls may bleed to death or die from an infection.

Located in East Africa, Somalia has the highest rate of genital mutilation in the world. According to the UN, 98% of women aged 15 to 49 years were subjected to the ritual.

Somalia’s constitution prohibits female genital mutilation, but efforts to pass laws that punish offenders have been hampered by parliamentarians afraid of losing votes to Muslim women, the main defenders of female genital mutilation.

Activists believe that much work needs to be done to help people understand the harmful effects of this practice.

“Advocates of genital mutations sometimes advance the absurd notion that it does not have negative effects, which is completely false,” said Brendan Wynne of Donor Direct Action, an international women’s group that supports local charities organizations.

“We have no time to debate the harm of genital mutilation and this case, as many others, proves it. Genital mutilation will end only when governments adopt a hard line and protect girls,” she said.

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