The Puntland government led by Said Abdullahi Deni recently passed a bill banning female genital mutilation (FGM), sparking a heated debate in Puntland society with widespread opposition from clerics and traditional leaders. The conservative Puntland community saw the move as contrary to traditional Somali culture and Islamic law and as preparing the ground for abortion legislation.
The FGM program is not an accident but has been dragging on for a long time and has been criticized by all past Puntland leaders, who saw it as unacceptable and could provoke a civil unrest at a time when the country is in a difficult security situation.
The FGM/ C project is being spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and is funded extensively. The contract for the project, which was previously signed by former SIDRA chairman Guled Salah, Hassan Abdullahi Deni (President Deni’s brother) and a team of experts working with UNFP, now appear to have come out and gone through the bill drafting process. Legislation, which is yet to be tabled in parliament, is facing serious opposition from the public.
It is important to note that this initiative is a dangerous experiment for abortion law or abortion right. The bill is intended to give the right to procure abortion without any preconditions which is absolute violation of Islamic law and culture. The issue of abortion is one of the most pressing issues in the world and is banned in most of the world’s major countries. Every child has the right to be born and to live well.
The abortion plan is led by Abdikadir Mohamed Muse, Saredo Mohamed Hassan Jeyte and Dr Yusra Mohamed Yasin. These two projects are intertwined, and if the first one is to be implemented the other must be expedited to be implemented.
The co-ordinator of the two programs for FGM and abortion in Puntland is Fatima Ibrahim Malta. She is also a member of a feminist organization called LeadNow. Fatima is also openly campaigning for these two programs on social media in the face of strong criticism.
The people of Puntland, most of whom are unaware of the nature of female genital mutilation and how to use it to enrich themselves, have differing views, with many welcoming it and many rejecting it. When it turned out that this was a very dangerous project, many people opposed it, most notably the scholars, traditional leaders and intellectuals.