Authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have issued a religious fatwa banning the practice of female genital mutilation and vowed to punish violators. The fatwa by the Ministry of Religious Affairs allows FGM victims to receive compensation. It does not say whether the compensation will be paid the government or by violators of the ban. “It’s forbidden to perform any circumcision that is contrary to the religion which involves cutting and sewing up, like the pharaoh circumcision, the ministry’s fatwa reads. “Any girl who suffers from pharaoh circumcision will be eligible for compensation depending the extent of the wound and the violation caused. Any one proven to be performing the practice will receive punishment depending on the extent of the violation.”
The fatwa – issued Tuesday, coinciding with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation – did not elaborate on the type or severity of punishment. FGM involves removing part or all of the clitoris and labia for non-medical reasons, usually as a rite of passage. On its website, the World Health Organization (WHO) says cutting – often performed on girls 15 and younger – can result in bleeding, infection, problems with urination and complications with childbearing.
Somalia is among the countries in which FGM is most prevalent. The international organization reports that an estimated 98 percent of Somali females ages 15 to 49 have undergone the procedure. The fatwa comes less than a month after Somaliland’s parliament for the first time approved a bill criminalizing rape and requiring prison terms for those who are convicted. Praise for fatwa