The death of Fartun Hassan Ahmed, daughter of rural pastoralists who bled to death after being cut earlier this month in the East African village of Jeerinle, Galmudug has raised concerns.
It is the first reported case of an FGM fatality in Somalia since the death of 10-year-old Deeqa Dahir Nuur in 2018. With one of the highest rates of FGM in the world, the East African country has no national law against the practice.
Activists report a rise in the practice during the pandemic. Fartun Hassan Ahmed was thirteen years old.
Fartun’s mother, Nadifo Fartun said “We looked for a car [to take her to the hospital] but it could not reach us in time … We didn’t know what to do. Later we found a car but she was already dead when it arrived.”
She said she stayed with her daughter as she bled from the early morning when she was cut until she died at about 4pm. Her parents said they regretted their decision.
Fartun suffered FGM at the hands of a traditional cutter, who also works as a local birth attendant and who cut Fartun’s nine-year-old sister before her.
Her blind goat-herder father, Hassan Ahmed said his daughter had been a hard worker and had helped to guide him. “She used to do everything for me … She helped and cooked for me, and took care of the animals when I was resting,” he said.
“We reached the decision because we wanted the girl to be circumcised … When the mother suggested the cutting, I did not object.”
Programme director of the Global Media Campaign, Naimah Hassan said: “On [11 July], it was Fartun who bled to death after FGM, and in the next village east of Jeerinle, another 20 girls were mutilated. We have no idea of how many young girls are dying because of FGM; what we do know is that a girl is cut every six seconds … and this horror must stop.”
In Somalia, approximately 98% of women and girls are genitally mutilated, most before the age of 10. Anti-FGM campaigner Ifrah Ahmad said: “I am very sad to learn of the death of another young girl in the Somali region directly as a result of FGM. Both parents made the decision to cut their daughter because they believed it was the right thing to do.”