Girls in Somalia Even More at Risk for Female Genital Mutilation During COVID-19 Lockdown

Girls in Somalia Even More at Risk for Female Genital Mutilation During COVID-19 Lockdown

EndFGMToday Continues to Urge Remaining 12 States Without Anti-FGM Laws to Criminalize This Barbaric Form of Child Abuse

June 3, 2020

According to a report in The Guardian, Somalia’s coronavirus lockdown has led to a “huge increase in female genital mutilation (FGM),” with cutters going “door to door offering to cut girls stuck at home during the pandemic.”

The COVID-19 crisis, says the national EndFGMToday campaign, is thwarting efforts to eradicate FGM in Somalia. The Guardian also reported that Somalia has the world’s highest FGM rate, with about 98% of women having been cut.

“The EndFGMToday campaign works frequently with adult women who are still scarred, both emotionally and physically, by their brutal FGM procedures from their childhoods in countries like Somalia,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “Female genital mutilation is not only barbaric, it’s unnecessary. FGM strips girls and women of healthy teen and adult years and healthy relationships, and leaves terrible trauma in its wake.

“Unbelievably, a dozen states right here in America do not have laws to prohibit female genital mutilation, which is especially alarming as more global nations take action to outlaw FGM,” Yore added.

The Guardian further reported that nurses in Somalia have seen a surge in requests from parents who wish to perform FGM on their daughters while they are off school due to the coronavirus lockdown. While people are looking for work during the economic downturn, cutters are traveling door to door, asking if there are young girls in the home who need cut.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that 290,000 girls will be cut in Somalia in 2020.

Yore also noted that U.S. states can no longer rely on a federal mandate to protect their residents from FGM. In late 2018, a federal judge ruled that the 1996 federal FGM law was unconstitutional on a technicality that had nothing to do with the actual issue.

EndFGMToday also shared that FGM is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation. Additionally, over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice, and the CDC estimates that more than 500,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in the United States alone.

To interview Elizabeth Yore of #EndFGMToday, contact, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.