Today, the European Union, in partnership with the Somaliland Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Family, launched two new projects to combat Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and all forms of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Somaliland, which will be implemented by Candlelight and Health Poverty Action. The projects were selected as part of the EU’s support to civil society and human rights.
Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious threats to their health and safety in the world. The situation is critical in Somaliland, where women and girls are at higher risk of rape, early and forced marriage, and FGM. Despite being internationally recognized as a human rights violation, it is estimated that almost 99% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 in Somaliland have been subjected to the harmful practice, which is the highest percentage in the world. Today, there is an alarming trend of medicalization of FGM, where the procedure is carried out by medical personnel.
The Government of Somaliland is committed to zero tolerance for all forms of Female Genital Mutilation. “We have established an inter-Ministerial taskforce to finalize the long standing anti FGM policy, we already started to engage with civil society organizations and government line ministries to support the approval of the zero tolerance anti FGM policy,” H.E Mustafe Mohamoud Ali, Minister, Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs and Family stated.
“We take note of the government’s commitment to end all forms of FGM in Somaliland,” European Union Ambassador Nicolás Berlanga replied. “This gives us great encouragement to support the government and civil society actors to make this commitment a reality.”
“Hundreds of young innocent girls are subjected to cutting everyday while there are much more girls at risk. The way to tackle this practice is to have a law banning all forms of FGM. We need to speed up our efforts; there is no better time to have the law than now,” stated Nafis Network Programme Manager Hibo Mohamoud.
At the national level, the projects are aligned with the priorities of the Somaliland National Development Plan, and will build on communities’ increased awareness of the need to end sexual and gender-based violence, and adopting a zero tolerance approach to female genital mutilation.
The project implemented by Candlelight, “Accelerating Change to Abandon SGBV and FGM”, aims at opening the civic and democratic space and promoting the rights of women and girls by adopting a rights-based, community-led approach to reducing sexual and gender-based violence, including all forms female genital mutilation.
The project implemented by HPA, “Somaliland Termination Oppression of women and girls Programme II (STOP II)” works to reduce the prevalence of SGBV and FGM through both a top-down and bottom-up approach, influencing communities and stakeholders at all levels to ensure that changes to social norms are structural and sustainable, while supporting legislations to abandon all forms of FGM and lobbying to pass the Sexual Offenses Bill.
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