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LOOKING BEYOND NUMBERS: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) Study Report 2021 - Somaliland

There are a number of reasons for the continuation of FGM/C practice in Somaliland. The prevalence of FGM/C is extremely high in Somaliland as per SLHDS, 2020, which reported that 98 percent of women aged 15-49 were circumcised. The report further showed that 53 percent of ever married women aged 15-49 years believe FGM/C should be continued.


The participants of the study responded to the question on the reason behind the continuation of FGM/C practice. The participants aged 15 to 24 years, both male and female, did not provide any information on the social and health impact of the FGM/C as they seemed not well informed. Participants aged 25 years and above, including women, men, circumcisers, health professionals, traditional leaders, religious leaders and MPs shared their opinions for the continuation of FGM/C. One of the main reasons is the cultural perception that parents wish to preserve girls’ virginity.


Additionally, mothers believe that practising FGM/C shields girls from being subjected to discrimination in a society that sees the practice as normal. Whereas, the older participants aged 50 years and above, both men and women (circumcisers, traditional leaders and some of the religious leaders), are adamant that the FGM/C practice is a religious obligation, particularly the Sunni type. Specifically, the older women aged 50 years and above felt that FGM/C should be continued as it is a form of honour and prestige of clans, ensuring cleanness and preserving virginity of girls. There is a strong believe that girls should be virgin before marriage as mentioned in the below quote; “When a girl undergoes FGM/C, it is a celebration event, where the family affords sweets and snacks to neighbours; such as an important event marking a new chapter for the girls history” (Women participants of 50 years and above)