Country: Somalia

Population: 10.4 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

97.9% & 2.5 million women aged 15+ cut

Data Source MICS 2006
15 – 49 (%) 97.9
15 - 19 (%) 96.7
45 - 49 (%) 99.1
Urban (%) 97.1
Rural (%) 98.4
Lowest Region (%) 94.4
Highest Region (%) 99.2
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 1.3
Flesh removed (%) 15.2
Sewn closed (%) 79.3
Traditionally performed (%) --
Medically performed (%) --
National law Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

Type III (infibulation) is the most commonly practiced form of FGC in Somalia at 79%.

Legal status:

In regards to the whole country, Somalia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) passed a new constitution on 1st August 2012 which banned FGC. This came into effect on 21st August 2012. However, it is so far unclear how the new Somalian constitution will affect Puntland’s laws.

There have been varying degrees of success across Somalia’s different states, with the Puntland State of Somalia the most proactive. In November 2011, the government of the Puntland State enacted laws against Type III FGC, but not Type I or Type II FGC. The Puntland State furthered their anti-FGC initiatives on 8th of March 2014 through banning FGC in correspondence with Islamic scholars in Puntland issuing a religious fatwa against FGC.

History of FGC in Somalia:

Traditionally, FGC was performed in adolescence as initiation into womanhood. However, FGC in Somalia is no longer an adolescent rite of passage and is instead frequently performed on girls between the ages of five and eight, often within the privacy of their homes. Many Somalis require that those marrying into the communities be cut, continuing the tradition across generations and cultures. Songs and poems deriding the un-cut are sung during the ceremonies.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

The UNFPA-UNCEF Joint Programme on FGC is active in Somalia, working with community groups and professional healthcare associations and religious leaders. Policies have been developed to prevent medicalisation. Networks of abandonment have been created.

In June 2012 the Northwest/Somaliland’s Religious Affairs Minister Sheikh Khalil publicly stated that FGC is not a religious practice and instructed parents not to cut their daughters.

Tostan achieved success with communities declaring abandonment in Maroodi Jeex in July 2012. However, they are no longer working in Somalia due to funding constraints.

Ongoing challenges:

Political instability in the region makes it difficult to conduct co-ordinated NGO or governmental programmes on FGC due to a lack of institutions and infrastructure.

Whilst most Muslim scholars cite religious evidence to condemn Type III FGC, they use well-known but unauthenticated hadiths to justify and encourage sunna (type I).

In order to combat the complications that often occur with FGC the practice is becoming medicalised. Although the majority of procedures are still being carried out by traditional cutters, the guddaay, the number of professional healthcare providers cutting girls is increasing.

Some reports show that the Somalian youth are against Type III FGC (infibulation) but support girls being cut (Types I and II). They have been taught about the adverse health effects of a girl being sewn up after being cut, but they still believe that it is important for women to be cut for marriage.

Additional information:

70% of girls are cut before their ninth birthday; 12% before the age of 5.

Opposition to the practice is particularly high amongst educated women and amongst those belonging to the richest quintile; respectively 65% and 51% of them think that the practice should end compared with 28% of women with no education and 11% of those belonging to the poorest quintile.

Ethnic groups:

Somali 85%

Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including 30,000 Arabs)


Somali (official)




Major religions:

Sunni Muslim (Islam)

In the news:


The Guardian - Somaliland: 'I convinced my sister not to do type III FGM on her daughter'

Somaliland Press - Study explores cutters' knowledge and attitudes towards FGC in Somaliland

The Guardian - Edna Adan at EA Foundation launch at SOAS, London:"Work needs to take place in countries like mine, using people who speak in the same language, using the same words as the grandfathers and mothers and religious leaders who can actually change things there."

UNPO - Former Foreign Minister of Somaliland visited Ireland to raise awareness about human rights issues affecting the country, in particular the fight against FGC

The Daily Mail - Calls for complete abandonment of FGC in Somalia are met by some communities proposing a 'milder form of FGC' rather than eradicating the practice

Anadolu Agency - UN report shows that situation of children in Somalia is improving but more action is needed

The Guardian - Orchid Project and Ifrah Ahmed hold Somalia's first high-level conference on FGC where Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir and government reaffirm commitment to end FGC

The New Times – Autobiography of Somalian United Nations human rights ambassador and champion against FGC Waris Dirie garners praise

The Guardian - Ifrah Ahmed talks about her role as Somali prime minister’s adviser on gender issues

Huffington Post - Interview with Ifrah 'FGM' Ahmed reveals her work to end the practice in Somalia

TIME - Anti-FGC activist sentenced to death for being openly gay

Newsweek - Ifrah Ahmed, anti-FGC campaigner, works to end FGC in Somalia

The Guardian - Somalia enlists Irish FGC campaigner to help end FGC in Somalia for good

FIGO - Somali Prime Minister Backs anti-FGC campaign sweeping across country

News One - Somalia's Prime Minister voices his commitment to outlaw FGC permanently

Vice News - Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke signed online petition calling for ban on FGC in Somalia

The Atlantic - Somali Prime Minister has joined efforts to end FGC

The Voice - Woman wins award for her campaign against FGC

The Guardian - Actual number of women who have been subject to FGC much higher than previous estimates

emPower - Young people leading the charge in ending FGC around the world

National ETD Portal – The impact of harmful customary practices in Africa: Case of FGC in Somalia is a violation of human rights

UNICEF Somalia - Regional authority introduces official policy to end FGC

The Guardian – Somali Minister hints at move to ban FGC

The Independent – 75 men demonstrate against a film made by a group of teenage girls, FGC denial at its peak

Yahoo News – Somalia announces plan to ban 'bad practice' of FGC nationwide

All Africa - 95 percent of girls undergo FGC in Somalia

International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics – Somali women in Brent 'all victims of FGM'.

Yahoo News – Somalia may soon ban FGC, but are laws enough?

Orange - UK Minister visits Somalia to help promote women's and girl's rights

Garowe Online- Somali women keen on more vehement role in politics

The Guardian- Somalis speak out against FGC

The Irish Times - 'I am convinced that the practice of FGM can be stopped in Somalia'

London Evening Standard - Legacy of suffering and illness revealed at hospital for FGC victims in Somaliland

News Medical - Despite years of investment, FGC still has major support in Somalia and Ethiopia

Horseed Media - Puntland bans FGC

Turkish Press - Fighting FGC in Somalia

Daily News - Muslims debate centuries-old, cultural tradition of FGC in Somalia

eNCA - Somalian FGC cases decrease

RBC - 'Education is the only solution to rid our country of FGM,' says Prime Minister

New Somali - Ifrah Ahmed campaign against FGC

FIGO - Mohamud will 'completely eradicate' FGC in Somalia

Sabahi - Somalia leads world in per capita female circumcision

FIGO - Somali refugees in Malta 'terrified' of FGC

UNICEF - Towards abandoning female genital cutting in Somalia once and for all


Somaliland Sun - Is the end in sight for FGC?

Somaliland Press - Somaliland: Extreme form of FGC is back

Somaliland Press- Dr. Edna Adan continues work in Somaliland to end FGC practice

Somaliland Press- First Lady Amina Weris addresses the 2014 UK Girls Summit

Somaliland Sun- Going against FGC

Tianhe Guardian - Somaliland's leading lady for women's rights: 'It is time for men to step up'

Somaliland Sun - Op-Ed: Working together to end female genital cutting

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