Network Against FGM in Somaliland (NAFIS)

Research to support the abandonment of FGM

Since 2006, NAFIS has supported research to explain more in-depth the reasons for the persistence as well as abandonment of the practice of FGM in Somaliland. A short summary of some of the studies and their key findings is presented below:

Assessment of Prevalence, perception and attitude of FGM/C in Somaliland

The assessment of prevalence, perception and attitudes of FGM in Somaliland (2014) carried out by NAFIS used a descriptive cross-sectional survey approach, supported by focus group discussions and Key informant interviews and took place across all six regions of Somaliland, interviewing 1986 women. The prevalence rate of FGM/C was found to be 99.8% with 82.3% undergoing the pharaonic cut. The average age of cutting was 8 years. 99.5% of the cutting was performed by traditional circumcisers in rural areas with 95.7% in urban areas, the remainder being done by health workers. 

This study highlights the lack of consistency in the use of terms relating to female genital cutting. It includes focus group discussions with men and religious leaders. The report records that most religious leaders are in favor of girls undergoing the Sunna cut. It also documents the strong preferences of most men for their sons to marry cut girls, indicating that an uncut girl would be ‘haram’, unclean, and marriage with such a girl would not be possible. The NAFIS report also investigated the decision-making process around female cutting, reporting that women, particularly mothers, are the principle decision makers with the fathers being involved in less than 20% of the households and taking responsibility for the decision less than 2% of the time.

There survey shows positive attitude and trend of eradicating FGM/C; most women opting for Sunna type. Religious leaders are optimistic and taking the lead in their contribution in abandoning FGM/C, though it may be a long term achievement.

Assessment and Mapping of Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting (FGM/C) Circumcisers .

This assessment was done three regions including; Awdal, Marodijeh and Togdheer regions in Somaliland in the year 2016.Key Results of the assessment showed that out of 128 circumcisers, majority 56.3% resided in the urban settings, followed by 18 % in the rural settings, 14.9% of the circumcisers from semi-urban areas and 11 % from official IDP camps. The mean age for the FGM/C circumcisers’ was 52 years with the youngest circumciser who was 25 years old and the oldest circumciser 83 years old.

The study showed that majority of the circumcisers’ gain the skill from family members who include their grandmother, mother, or aunt and thus the practice runs from one generation to the next through the family line. The study found that what most influences the practices FGM are; Mean for earning a living for the Circumcisers, religious and culture beliefs, stigmatization and belief of girls protected from sexual desire.

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