The first case that was prosecuted in Somalia came to light after a 10-year-old girl died in Central Somalia after she underwent what is called “khatna” in popular parlance or female genital mutilation (FGM). It was suspected that during the ‘circumcision’, a vital vein was cut which led to her death after two days. There is no legislation in place in Somalia to outlaw this heinous act. Use of blades, razors, knives or even broken glass to carry out this procedure is common. Thus the aftermath of septicemia, convulsions, excruciating pain, continual bleeding, probable infection and cyst formation and of course sexual disorder is inflicted upon young girls. Having undergone such a trauma at a young age leaves behind irremovable scars on the minds and bodies of these girls.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa and Asia.The FGM procedure is typically performed by untrained midwives or unprofessional and self-proclaimed practitioners. But the more odious part is those who refuse the procedure are often stigmatized and looked down upon by society.
A 2018 UNICEF report states that at least one in four women between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM in Somalia but is not the only country where this is practiced in the name of religious, cultural or pseudo-medical rationale of course. In South Asia including India the Dawoodi Bohra community believes that FGM will ensure control over female sexuality and also ‘purify women of sins’ --- it is believed that the clitoris is “an immoral lump of skin” and a “a source of sin”.
There have been a lot of protests against FGM and since minors are the main victims it also violates the POSCO Act. On 9 July, the Supreme Court admitted a bunch of petitions seeking a ban on female ‘circumcision. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra stated that FGM is in “serious violations of basic fundamental rights of the victims who in these cases are minors.” The Court said female genital mutilation violates Articles 15 and 21 of the Constitution that guarantee protection of life and personal liberty and prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.