Now as SIHA, we clearly see two (2) major problems with the Somaliland Religious Affairs’ Fatwa:
- The core problem is the fact that the Religious Affairs assumes that FGM is a religious matter, which is completely against all facts related to Islamic religion doctrines in the Islam Holy text or the various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence. Female Genital Mutilation has nothing to do with the Islamic faith. FGM is practiced across the African Sahel region from Somalia to the Atlantic by both Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The rise of political Islam relying on repression of women has included FGM happily to their long lists of regulating women bodies and public presence and social interaction.
- The Fatwa of the religious affairs ministry is misleading as it is not banning FGM from an Islamic religious view. On the contrary, it is allowing and legitimizing the type 1 of FGM from an Islamic angle which is still the most commonly practiced type of FGM at the moment. FGM-type 1 is about amputating the female clitoris and retractable fold of the skin. While the Fatwa is banning FGM type 2 and 3 which are traditionally called pharaoh, referring to ancient times of Nubian pharaohs, the ministry of religious affairs claiming FGM type 1 as “Sunna” and therefore legitimizing it, this could lead into a set-back on FGM activism in the Somali region and the Horn of Africa.
According to the Regional Director of SIHA Network – Ms. Hala Al-Karib, the persistence of FGM is directly linked to the rise of women’s subordination as a result of the spread of extreme repressive political Islam which continues to gain its legitimacy across traditional communities through monopolizing women bodies and women engagement in public sphere.
As SIHA, we call on FGM activists not to be misled by such calls and to continue fighting for a society that is Free of FGM.
SIHA urges the Somaliland government to adopt and integrate the Sexual Offences Bill (Anti-Rape law) into an effective civil law. These steps taken will empower women and largely contribute to ending all forms of FGM. Furthermore, we urge the Somaliland government to take steps towards criminalizing all forms of violence against women and girls and invest on empowering women at the grassroots.