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In Somaliland only a minority oppose female genital mutilation

In many parts of Africa and the Middle East it is still common for young women to have their genitals mutilated. Female genital mutilation [FGM] ranges from the mutilation or removal of the clitoris, to the complete removal of all external female genitalia. This is often done using very crude methods.

Do to open immigration, this practice is now being carried out inside the US and Europe as well.

Somaliland is the break-away northwestern part of Somalia. The practice is so common here, that the public debate is over how much should be removed, not whether or not FGM should be stopped.

FGM is usually portrayed as only an obscure fringe practice in the Western media. It would be “racist” to report the full extent of the horror show that is occurring.

125 million women have undergone some form of FGM. About 8 million have had all of their external genitalia removed and the Vagina sewn shut save a small hole to urinate through.

From London Evening Standard…

The Somali cutter sat with her 10-year-old daughter beside her and explained calmly why she will take a razor blade to her this summer. “I am a circumciser,” she declared. “This young one I haven’t circumcised yet, but my other daughters are circumcised. I will circumcise her in the school holidays in June or July.

“I believe that she will not get married if I don’t circumcise her. At the same time, it is important for me because I’m a circumciser and people will not trust me if I don’t do it with my own daughter. It would be shameful. They would say, ‘you are doing it to our daughters, but you are not doing it to your own’. I will also do it for cultural reasons because people will talk otherwise and say she has not been circumcised.”

The logic of Khadija Geedi, a 50-year-old cutter in Somaliland, appeared flawless but her seeming indifference to the pain she will inflict on her daughter Fihiima was unsettling, as the pair sat together on the floor of their home in the rural village of Baki. As Ms Geedi explained, however, the bloody procedure that she will carry out on Fihiima this summer is a routine task to which she has become inured after a career as a “traditional birth attendant” lasting three decades.

“I started doing this when I was 20 and I can’t calculate how many I have done,” she says, adding that her price for cutting is $15 a time. On average now I do 10-15 a month, but sometimes it can be 30 or 35. In towns I do it mainly during the school holidays. In the rural places it depends when  they have enough girls ready to be  circumcised.

“I use a blade, some material to stop the bleeding and some local anaesthetic. I go to the local health centre to get them. Before I used to remove all the clitoris and all the labia, major and minor, and sew them. Now I only remove the clitoris. I changed about 10 years ago.”

Ms Geedi says her decision to switch to the less extensive type of mutilation, known as “sunna” in Somaliland, followed a move by clerics to revise their religious guidance and declare the alternative “pharaonic” form as  contrary to Islam.

“When I heard the sheikhs say that it is forbidden to do the pharaonic type I stopped, but I still do the sunna one. In Islam, that is okay — it says that we can do that,” she said.

Her determination to continue in her job is clear and with the law in Somaliland still allowing cutting, the main hope of campaigners against mutilation lies with the country’s clerics.

They began reassessing five years ago what Islam says about FGM. Opinion now, while united in opposition to extensive cutting and sewing, is divided between those who advocate supposedly minor “touching” with a blade and a minority who support leaving girls entirely unharmed.

Sheikh Elmi Ismail Mohamed, who preaches in the Somaliland town of Borama, said he believed girls should have only a “small” cut to the clitoris, which he claimed would not amount to FGM, and added he was determined to prevent more severe mutilation.

FMG is illegal in Uganda, but still practiced.