The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that around 200 million women and girls across the world have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). Female genital mutilation, in any form, is recognised internationally as a gross violation of the human rights of girls and women.
The practice denies women and girls their rights to:
• Physical and mental integrity;
• Freedom from violence;
• The highest attainable standard of health;
• Freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex;
• Freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments;
• Life (when the procedure, or complications arising from FGM, result in death).
Addressing a gap
According to UNICEF data, Somalia has a 98% FGM prevalence among girls and women. Recognising the level of FGM as a major concern, the Somali government and Somaliland government have prioritised the drafting of FGM Bill in Somalia. LAW developed a preliminary research brief outlining best practices for legislation.
The Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development is leading the process in South Central region.
Categorisation of FGM
Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy)
Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).
Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation)
All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterisation.
The Bill will criminalise FGM and highlight it as an act of physical violence against the bodily integrity of a person. FGM practices are categorised into four different ‘types’ of FGM.
The Bill will clearly articulate, criminalise and sanction all types of FGM. It will provide for criminal liability of parents, family members and any other individuals who:
• Perform FGM;
• Instruct or incite others to subject a woman or girl to FGM;
• Fail to report the risk or occurrence of FGM;
• Legislation should explicitly state that accomplices to the practice of FGM shall be subject to the same punishment as the practitioner.
The duty to report will also be included with the legislation providing an obligation on individuals to report FGM where they are aware that FGM has been perpetrated, or where they have reasonable grounds to believe that FGM will be practiced on an individual in the future.
What’s next ?
South Central Region
Once the Bill is drafted, the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development will lead bilateral and public consultations during which key stakeholders are given the opportunity to provide their feedback.
LAW will review the current draft FGM Bill and provide technical support to ensure it is a robust, comprehensive Bill in compliance with best practices.