Somaliland: ‘I convinced my sister not to do type III FGM on her daughter’
These are the young men struggling against all odds to enact change in a generation and improve the lives of Somali women
In Somaliland, Unicef estimates that about 98% of girls and women between 15 and 49 are subjected to some form of female genital mutilation almost a despairing figure. This is largely an issue in the hands of women, and not something openly discussed. Yet Unicef believes it is vital that men are part of any solution. Young men in the region who are against the practice are forming a growing movement for change, but the drought crisis is dominating peoples lives right now.
The first thing I did as a campaigner is convince my sister not to do Type III FGM on her daughter. I told her about the side effects and I also made her listen to Islamic scholars that are against the practice to show her that FGM is not religious. After a lot of negotiation, she agreed and didnt do it. I am proud of that. Khadar, is now working as a project co-ordinator for ActionAid. He was trained by the indigenous-Somali organisation Candlelight.
Men, in general do not speak about FGM. It remains a taboo, he says.
Men here are the heads of the household and this means they can play an important role in ending FGM, if they chose to.
While studying at the University of Hargeisa, Khadar was exposed to the realities and consequences of FGM on womens health. Once I realised the psychological and physical trauma, I was against it. He became an anti-FGM ambassador at his university and felt more confident in challenging some of his peers. When I tell others all the facts, especially young people, they are easily convinced. Lack of knowledge is the reason FGM is still practiced in Somaliland. I am confident that FGM can be eradicated in one generation.