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Girls & Women

Father Still Defends FGM After 10-Year-Old Daughter Dies in Somalia

By Asha Aden and Harun Maruf

Doctors in central Somalia say a 10-year-old girl has died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM).

Director of Hanano hospital in Dhusamareb, Dr. Abdirahman Omar Hassan, who was on the response team who tried to save the girl, told VOA Somali that the victim bled to death after undergoing FGM.

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Hassan said the girl was brought to the hospital on July 17. Her parents told doctors the procedure was performed two days earlier in the village of Olol, 40 kilometers north of Dhusamareb town.

“She was brought in during the early evening, we all rushed to the emergency [room] when we learned her situation,” Hassan told VOA Somali. “She died because she was losing lots of blood.”

Hassan said examinations show the girl contracted tetanus because the items used by the person who performed the procedure were not sterilized.

FGM involves removing part or all of the clitoris and labia for non-medical reasons, usually as a rite of passage. The World Health Organization (WHO) says cutting — often performed on girls 15 and younger — can result in bleeding, infection, problems with urination and complications with childbearing.

“They cut the clitoris, one side of the vulva was cut, the other side was wounded in three areas,” Hassan said. “I never saw anyone who was mutilated like that in my life.”

The girl’s father Dahir Nur said he was distraught but accepts that his daughter died due to the procedure and believes she was “taken by Allah."

Despite losing his daughter he defended the practice.

“The people in the area are content with it [FGM], her mother consented to it,” he said, adding, “We have seen the effects but it’s a culture in the country we live in.”

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Nur says he holds no one responsible for the death of his daughter.

News of the fatal procedure emerged as Somali activists and international partners are meeting in Mogadishu to discuss increasing campaigns against FGM.

Somali anti-FGM activist Ifrah Ahmed appealed to religious leaders to do more to convince the community to end the practice.

“The religious leaders can inform the community about what the religion says about FGM — that this is not religious, it’s a culture,” she said.

Somalia is in the top three countries in the world for FGM violations, according to the WHO.