The ritual is supposed to keep girls “pure”. But Somaliland, independent self-proclaimed Somali region, the population begins to gently refuse the extreme form of female genital mutilation, increasingly aware of the health risks.

In this region in the extreme north-west Somalia, most women over 25 have suffered in their childhood FGM, which involves excision and infibulation: the clitoris, but the labia minora, followed by a section in the flesh of the vulva before the labia are sewn their turn.

It leaves only a small opening to allow girls to urinate and later, their rules flow.

The operation is usually carried out using a razor when the child is between five and eleven years without any anti-pain it is administered. Girls are sewn until marriage. Their vagina is then opened either during intercourse – painful for both partners – or using scissors.

“I cut girls for 15 years My grandmother and my mother had taught me to do and it was a source of income for me -., But I stopped there four years,” says Amran Mahmood, a resident of Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital, aged forty years.

“I decided to stop because of the problems,” she said. His worst memory: when a girl had started to bleed and she was powerless to stop the bleeding. It does not say what became of the child.

Practice FGM previously brought not only social prestige, but also a good salary. Make a girl takes thirty minutes, and reports between 30 and 50 dollars, a considerable sum in Somaliland.

Amran Mahmood said he performed this operation on his own daughter. But she swears that her granddaughters will not go there.

Because after attending awareness training given by the NGO Tostan, supported by the Fund of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Amran Mahmood became a fervent activist anti-infibulation.

Somaliland in general, the medical consequences of this operation – kidney infections, urinary tract, pain, bleeding, complications during childbirth – begin to discredit the practice.

This is certainly the case in Hargeisa, where adolescents are now experiencing at least over the most extreme mutilation. Their mothers, aware of the pain involved in these operations, defended the change.

“Things change. Now there are men who are willing to marry girls who have not been cut,” said Mohamed Said Mohamed, head of a suburb of Hargeisa. “I am completely against cut (girls). Our religion does not tolerate.”

– What Islamic interpretation? –

In the local primary school, the girls are sitting on one side of the class, dressed in long beige and black hijabs covered skirts. The boys are on the other side, dressed in beige trousers and white shirts.

“People are starting to see how the extreme form (mutilation) is dangerous,” says Sagal Abdulrahman, a 14 year old girl.

“The first type (mutilation) involves stitches, it is painful type because in many cases, women have trouble giving birth. And (…) when they have their rules, it is also painful, “added her friend Asma Ibrahim Jibril. “The second type is not as painful.”

“I am very happy because my parents chose the least severe form, and it suits me perfectly,” says the girl. “I will not go through painful things later.”

But for Charity Koronya, employee of UNICEF, all forms of mutilation are banned.

“In my opinion, the total abandonment is key because even though it’s a small cut, it is still a violation,” she said. Itself comes from a Kenyan tribe who practice circumcision, but she escaped it: his father used to travel, was opposed.

In Somaliland, the question of whether Islam requires FGM or not is at the heart of the debate.

“Completely stop female genital mutilation will not work in our country,” said Abu Hureyra, a religious leader. “But we are in favor of stopping the extreme form.”

“There are doctors who say that cutting is good for women’s health,” insists Mohamed Jama, an official at the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Somaliland.

“If you cut a woman kill you,” replies yet a young chef Rahman Yusuf.

Other Islamic leaders do not seem to know what to think. They say they have consulted experts of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and have received conflicting answers.

Koronya for Charity, the mere fact that the practice is now discussed in public, however, is already a huge progress.

“At first it was difficult to discuss FGM in public,” she said. “Today, religious leaders, women leaders talk about and even talk about the link between sex and mutilation.

Source: AFP