13-year old dies in shocking FGM case in Somalia

Thirteen-year old dies in shocking FGM case in Somalia, as Covid reverses progress
2 min read
22 July, 2021
A 13-year-old girl in Somalia died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), prompting sharp condemnation from rights groups.
Statistics have shown that progress in reducing FGM stalled over the last year [Getty-file photo]

A 13-year-old girl in Somalia died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), prompting sharp condemnation from rights groups.

Fartun Hassan Ahmed is the daughter of nomads who live in the village of Jeerinle in the state of Galmudug, and she was "cut" by someone who works as a birth attendant and had already carried out the procedure on her nine-year-old sister.

FGM is not illegal in Somalia and tens of young girls are mutilated daily in the country by traditional cutters.

"We looked for a car [to take her to hospital] but it could not reach us in time … We didn’t know what to do. Later we found a car but she was already dead when it arrived," Fartun’s mother, Nadifo Fartun told The Guardian.

She went on to say that her daughter bled from the morning until she died at around 4pm. She said she regretted the decision to have her daughter cut.

The Global Media Campaign initially contacted local police about Fartun’s death. No one has been arrested in relation to the case.

FGM increase over pandemic

Last month, several rights activists and politicians convened in the Human Rights Council to discuss the worsening situation for girls across parts of Africa and the Middle East, where FGM shot up over the coronavirus pandemic.

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Statistics have shown that progress in reducing FGM stalled over the last year. There are fears that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including the eradication of female genital mutilation, was no longer possible by 2030 due to the reversal of progress taking place as a result of the pandemic.

"The current context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic exposed girls and women to greater risks," a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) report stated.

Michelle Bachelet, UNHCR, said that female genital mutilation affected women and girls everywhere in the world, with more than 90 countries affected according to a recent report.

"Prior to Covid-19, more than 200 million girls and women alive today had undergone female genital mutilation and at least four million girls were at risk every year," the report reads. "It was now estimated that 20 million girls more may never return to secondary school – and everyone knew that secondary education reduced female genital mutilation.”

The Covid-19 pandemic shuttered schools and disrupted programmes, 2 million additional cases of female genital mutilation may occur over the next decade, Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, said.