The authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have issued a fatwa, or a religious edict, banning the practice of female genital mutilation and vowed to punish any violators.
The fatwa issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs has a provision which allows victim to get compensation. It does not however go any further in shedding light on whether the compensation will come from the government or from the perpetrators themselves.
"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 extent of the severity of punishment is not provided for in the fatwa. Since the fatwa was issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and some religious scholars, Somaliland’s Parliament is now expected to give its full approval to the religious edict.
Somaliland has been making considerable strides when it comes to legislation which upholds human rights and human dignity. 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.
Female Genital Mutilation involves removing part or all of the clitoris and labia for non-medical reasons, usually as a rite of passage and Somalia (which includes Somaliland) isamong the places in the world where the practice is rife. It is often performed on girls 15 and younger and can result in bleeding, infection, problems with urination and complications with childbearing, according to the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 98 percent of Somali females ages 15 to 49 have undergone the procedure.