MORE GIRLS ARE BEING MUTILATED AMIDST COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Thursday 11 June 2020

MORE GIRLS ARE BEING MUTILATED AMIDST COVID-19 OUTBREAK 

Save the Children and its partners warn of a worrying spike in cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other violations against girls in Somalia as the country battles to respond to the spread of COVID-19, urging the government to  guarantee children’s rights remain a priority in their response plans.

An analysis of the FGM incident reports in 13 districts of Somalia indicate a surge in the number of FGM cases reported in the last two months as compared to the previous months. The report, produced by partners implementing SNaP [1]( Social Norm and Participation Program ) Consortium reveal that at least 52 girls, aged between 6 and 13 years, were mutilated during the months of April and May as compared to 38  cases of FGM reported between January and February 2020. This is almost a 50% increase.

“This may be just a fraction of what is really happening in our communities. Most of these cases go unreported, we believe the problem is much bigger than this.  It is worrying and devasting. Thousands of girls are now more at risk as a result of the crisis,” says Zahra Dahir, SNaP Consortium Director.

Dahir says school closure and suspension of anti FGM sensitization activities as part of the measures introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country have left children, particularly girls. with little protection and support structures.  Girls who have being out of school since early March due to COVID19 outbreak has created a perfect opportunity to practice FGM, possibly under the influence of cutters without fear of being caught or reported.

In addition COVID-19 has disrupted the routine community surveillance and monitoring of FGM and other forms of GBV, leaving many girls at risk especially those living in settlement for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and rural areas.

The COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic impact have also exposed more girls to risks and gender-based violence including domestic labor, rape and forced marriages. Economic hardships brought by loss of jobs and decreased diaspora remittances is resulting distress that brought further intimate partner violence among the families, disrupting cohesion and togetherness between couples.

We call upon the Federal Government of Somalia and its member states to step up and protect girls and women from harmful traditional practices during this crisis and ensure protection of children, particularly girls, is an essential component of the country’s COVID19 response strategies.

[1] SNaP is 4year initiative funded by DFID and the Government of Norway with the aim of challenging harmful social norms and creating an enabling environment for girls and women ins Somalia to reach their potential