Somaliland: Why Public Announcements About FGM Are Not Effective Solution?

Today everyone talks about Female Genital Mutilation better known as FGM when they gather in fancy places like hotels. They touch familiar emotions and share stories about FGM but no actions ensue once they leave the room. So, I ask myself two questions: Are all of them so heartless?  Or this issue has never touched them? Then I remember that most of them are men! That is why the activism about FGM is not real! Even the females, who are involved in raising awareness of its agonies as well as in the advocacy groups for its eradication, still practice FGM on their girls because of either the pressure from the society or their involvement is purely for personal gain of having a job rather than changing the lives of their families and their communities.

For a long time, even before attending university, I have been hearing messages about FGM in numerous occasions but the last research that I was involved  in shocked me to learn the prevalence is still at 98% and this rate has not changed a bit!

In this short video, Comfort Momoh tells you the facts you need to know about FGM (End FGM European Network)

Then, I asked myself why there is not a huge change. Since there are many forms of FGM, one type has been substituted for another and that is why the change is so negligible. A good number left the Pharaonic type but still cut the girls in different ways. A women told me she uses sugar to close the wound after she cuts the clitoris WHEN SHE PERFORMS THE SUNNAH TYPE.

This is so disappointing because public messages are not producing the desired change for so many reasons:

  • Public Service Announcements are mostly written in a foreign language
  • Public messages are not reaching and at the same time not tailored for the FGM cutters.
  • Messages are not convincing the mothers to quit the practice and save their daughters from going through FGM trauma with its long term consequences/complications
  • Putting out only public messages and engaging in activism alone would not reverse this practice

We need a real change in the behavior of the workers engaged in the FGM outreach projects in Somaliland before they interact with the communities. Tackling a tradition that has been in place for centuries is a dilemma for them, but first they must believe in what they are working on. I met a nurse who does FGM on girls in the proper way by using “safe and clean technique” and she advised to protect the girls from the traditional cutters who use unclean tools. The nurse is also part of Community Outreach Program that delivers messages of “zero tolerance for FGM” as directed by the funding NGO. The communities need to listen carefully to those nurses.

The tools used in the FGM procedure include razors, kerosene to clean the wound, an egg used as glue to stop the bleeding, a syringe and a numbing agent. A powder concoction that includes sugar and crushed Ampicillin antibiotic capsules is deployed to stop excessive bleeding and fight infection

In the process of approaching communities for the purpose of delivering Public Service Announcements about FGM, NGOs entice them by giving snacks and allowance to attend the sessions/seminars!! So that makes messages less important and NGOs have to look at the way they deliver such messages. “If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins”

Let’s use what works and communities understands. I believe the change that we are all looking for lies in our hands. Let women deal with it as they will do it from the bottom of their hearts and let men be supportive the female leadership in this battle against FGM.

Finally, let’s use different approaches to get positive results otherwise we are suffering from insanity described by Albert Einstein. Quote: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”


MD Mariam Abdillahi Dahir
Hargeisa Somaliland

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed here are those of the author/authors and do not reflect views of Somaliland Intellectuals Institute (SII) and/or its sponsors or partners. SII reserves the right to edit articles before publication. To consider publishing your opinion piece or analysis please email to February 9, 2018