On June 14th, 2020, NAFIS Network has been awakened with very disturbing and alarming news from Berbera city the Sahil region, where siblings of two young girls aged between 9 and 10 have been subjected to FGM in remote areas and due to the severity of the cutting and stitching caused one girl to bleed out and needed an emergency medical assistance, while the other girl was so much traumatized by the event to point she vomited blood.
Immediately after the alarming news, the NAFIS FGC response team traveled to Berbera to confirm the cases and provide emotional support to the young victims as well as the parents; The team met the regional coordinator of the Ministry of health, the medical team that given medication to the girls and the parents.
The case took place Abdal town, which locates between Hargeisa and Berbera. However, after their situation becomes critical, they have transported to Abdal Maternal and child health (MCH) facility, and immediately the MCH transferred them to Berbera regional hospital; at the time of the visit, both girls have been discharged from the hospital but still were recovering.
The mother of the two young girls has told NAFIS team that about twenty girls have gone through this FGM for the last few days, where seven are in her close neighbors. The mother mentioned how she was initially planning to take her daughters to the Abdal mother and child health facility (MCH), where a safer service could have been provided. However, the circumciser who want from Hargeisa convinced the mother to let her perform the FGM at the house. Before the incident, the mother has told the circumciser to use only two stitches. Still, the women persuaded her that it is always three stitches. In a single day, the circumciser performed seven cuttings. Although the entire situation is unfortunate, only two young girls from the same family suffered excessive bleeding or severe vomiting to the point where one girl vomited blood.
NAFIS Network FGM response team has interviewed the parents and, with their consent, polled the young girls aged 9 and 10. During the interview, the 10-year-old said: “When I heard the other girls scream and cry a got scared and tried to run away, however, the neighbor women chased me down and caught me, I was so scared, and most of the procedure did not know what was happening to me, I would want her (the circumciser) to be jailed and never released from the jail.” The 9-year-old also witnessed how the woman was cutting and stitching her sister and when she saw the blood, the crying, and screams of her sister, she fainted because she thought that her sister is dying because of the excruciating pain she was going through. Both girls were so much distressed and seemed very fragile and week because of the blood loss, and as the whole experience was a traumatizing episode.
During the interview with the parents, both were very regretful about what had happened and were still shaken from the experience. The father worked in Berbera and was not present at the time of the incident. However, the mother had informed the plan to circumcise the daughters. Unfortunately, the father did not pay much attention to the issue.
This incident is one of many gender-related violations that take place in the Somali communities; is one of the physical and mental health tortures that we have inflicted this pain and suffering with our own hands where our young daughters are subject to physical, emotional and psychological harm to the extended long-lasting suffering and in some cases even death. As stakeholders and activists, we should question why the practice still existing after so many FGC awareness-raising interventions?. Why this practice is still happening? This is very serious situation that requires the civil society organizations, local NGOs, International NGOs and government institutions to take swift action to stop such violent practices, we have to remind ourselves that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, schools and other educational hubs have been closed and many young girls are and will be subjected to FGC.
NAFIS Network has raised their concern about the possibility of escalation of FGM cases earlier. It is absolutely wrong for anyone to cut and mutilate the reproductive organs of young girls as it has no basis for health being or religious grounds. NAFIS Network is demanding a swift intervention from the government of Somaliland to eradicate the FGC victimization of young girls by putting in place Anti-FGC policy to criminalize and eradicate FGM practice with social consensus.