90 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 38: 1 2018]
This is a considerable improvement, but in a country where ninety-eight percent of girls still
undergo the procedure, more must be done to stop FGM from continuing.
IV. PUNISHMENTS AND REPERCUSSIONS THROUGHOUT AFRICA
Though female genital mutilation is banned under Somalia’s new constitution, there do not
appear to be many repercussions or punishments for those who continue to practice it. Despite the
change in Somalia’s Constitution, there is no specific law that prohibits the practice; therefore,
FGM is still heavily performed in both rural and urban areas in Somalia. The Parliament of
Puntland approved legislation outlawing female genital mutilation, but there is no evidence that
the law is being enforced.
Although there is no law in Somalia that makes the practice illegal, there are other countries
in Africa that have banned FGM through legislation – a route UNICEF hopes Somalia will soon
take. Unfortunately, in countries that do have legislation against female genital mutilation, such
laws are rarely enforced. For example, Ghana passed legislation banning FGM in 1994, but
between that time and 2009, only seven arrests have been made pursuant to the law, with only two
practitioners being prosecuted and convicted. Additionally, Cote d’Ivoire has the most extensive
law prohibiting the practice. In Cote d’Ivoire, punishment includes imprisonment of one to five
years and a fine of 360,000 to two million francs. The penalty increases from one to five years to
five to twenty years of incarceration if the victim dies. Since this legislation was passed, several
practitioners have been arrested for performing this procedure. Similarly, Section 16A of the
Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act of 1998 prohibits FGM in Tanzania. Punishment includes
imprisonment from five to fifteen years or a fine of 300,000 shillings. Based on such evidence, it
appears that even if Somalia was to adopt legislation, it seems unlikely that it would be enforced.
V. ACTIVISM AGAINST FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
Activists are aware that the radical change in Somalia’s Constitution may lead to
underground cutting, rather than the elimination of it, increasing the already prevalent risks of
female genital mutilation. There are activists in Somalia and abroad who are attempting to better
educate the Somali against the dangerous and unnecessary practice. Organizations such as
UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), and the World Health Organization (WHO)
have been working with Somali activists since 2008 to limit the number of FGM procedures.
Among Somali activists is Edna Adan Ismail, who spoke out against FGM as early as the 1970s.
Edna fights against FGM because of the increasing mortality rate for mothers and babies.
According to Edna, the maternal-infant mortality rate is four times higher than the average of other
developing countries. FGM is a major contender for this high percentage.
Since 2008, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the WHO have initiated the Joint Programme on
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting to accelerate the practice’s end, launched an evidence based
guideline on the management of health complications associated with FGM, and developed tools
for healthcare workers to be better educated in preventing and managing the complications of
FGM. In 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the elimination of the practice.
In 2016, Somalia’s Prime Minster, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, signed an online petition
demanding the total elimination of female genital mutilation. The petition already has over one