Puntland authorities have banned female genital mutilation (FGM) after years of controversial debate over the issue. Puntland’s newly elected President Abdiweli Mohamed Gas enacted the new law outlawing FGM on Saturday.
Puntland’s cabinet had earlier proposed the ban, but it was never taken to the parliament. Somalia’s federal constitution outlaws FGM, but it is believed that over 70 percent of women still undergo the painful genital mutilation.
Lul Jama Awnor, the director of Women Development Department at Puntland’s Ministry for Women and Family Affairs, said the ban meant the practice was on its way to being eradicated. “It’s a good step took towards empowering Somali women,” Awnor told Radio Ergo’s local reporter in Garowe.
Islamic scholars in Puntland have issued a religious fatwa banning FGM as it has no basic in Islamic studies. However, Radio Ergo’s Abdirahman Mohamed in Garowe said though the move is a very significant achievement in the fight for women’s empowerment, it will be hard for the local administration to translate the ban into action, as many families will continue the circumcision of girls that they consider as protection of girls’ chastity.