(Xinhua) -- Three international aid
agencies on Saturday expressed concern over a recent ruling by
the government of Somaliland in Somalia that encourages female
genital mutilation (FGM).
In a joint statement, Save
the Children, CARE International, and International Rescue
Committee (IRC), said the Feb. 6 ruling goes against the
commitment to abandon female cutting and eliminate all harmful
"Female genital mutilation is a harmful procedure regardless
the level of mutilation. It must be discouraged at all levels,"
said Timothy Bishop of Save the Children Somalia/ Somaliland on
behalf of the other organizations.
However, the organizations welcomed the banning of extreme
forms of FGM but insisted that the decision should apply to all
forms of FGM.
On Feb. 6, Somaliland announced a new fatwa, or religious
edict, banning two of the three types of female cutting.
The edict by the Ministry of Religious Affairs allows FGM
victims to receive compensation but it does not say whether the
compensation will be paid by the government or by violators of
According to the organizations, the ruling made a certain
type of FGM/C "mandatory" for every girl in Somaliland and at
the same time banning the most extreme forms.
The religious edict came barely a month after Somaliland’s
parliament approved a bill criminalizing rape and requiring
prison terms for those who are convicted.
Female cutting, according to the World Health Organization
(WHO), is also often performed on girls under the age of 15,
resulting in complications that range from bleeding and
infection to problems with urination and complications with
Somalia is among countries in which FGM is most prevalent. An
estimated 98 percent of Somali females ages 15 to 49 have
undergone the procedure.
The aid agencies said the decision to encourage FGM will
erode decades of investments made in ending FGM in Somalia/
Somaliland and undermines the mobilization, awareness-raising
and prevention work undertaken by communities, national and
international organizations and the government aiming at total
abandonment of FGM/C in Somalia/ Somaliland.
The organizations said they will continue to engage with the
government of Somaliland to explore ways in which decisions made
will be for the best interest of a child in Somaliland.