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A young girl who was affected by FGM poses for a photograph.
Tanya Bindra/UNICEF
Girls & Women

Two Sisters, 10 and 11, Die After Undergoing FGM in Somalia


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a form of gender-based violence to which girls and women all over the world are subjected. The harmful practice is rooted in the belief that a girl's value lies in her virginity, but is medically unnecessary and can cause life-long damage. You can join us by taking action here to support gender equality.

Two young sisters have died in Somalia after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), CNN reports.

Aasiyo and Khadijo Abdi Warsame, ages 10 and 11, were both cut by the same circumciser in their rural village of Arawda. The girls bled for 24 hours after the procedure and ultimately died from complications associated with the cutting, Aden Mohammed, director of the women's rights group Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, told CNN.

The sisters passed away as their mother was bringing them to a health center on Tuesday. The tragic news comes just two months after the government of Somalia announced that it would pursue its first FGM prosecution, following the death of a 10-year-old girl, Deeqa Dahir Nuur, who was subjected to FGM.

"It is another sad story coming even before the dust settles and action is taken in the Deeqa case. Yet there seems to be reluctance in discussing and passing the anti-FGM law," Mohammed told CNN.

"We hope that this will serve as a wake-up call for those responsible to see the need to have the law in place to protect girls from this heinous practice," she said.

Take Action: Help Global Citizen End Female Genital Mutilation

FGM, which is often performed by untrained midwives using knives, razors, or glass, can cause life-threatening bleeding, infections, and infertility. The procedure is typically done around puberty to preserve girls' virginities and make them more appealing for marriage. Despite common misconceptions, FGM is a cultural practice, not a religious one.

Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guuled spoke out against the practice, common in Somalia, in July, after news of Nuur's death broke.

"This is an historic moment for ending FGM in Somalia. This cannot be happening in our country in the 21st century. It is not part of our religion, and it will not be part of our culture," Mohamed Guuled told CNN.

Read More: The UK and US Just Signed a Major Pledge to Crack Down on FGM

In 2012, country's new constitution moved to ban FGM; however, little progress has been made to protect women from the practice under the law, Time reports.

FGM remains legal in Somalia, which has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world. It is estimated that 98% of Somali women between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone the procedure — most undergo FGM before they turn 15, according to the World Health Organization.

Internationally, FGM is recognized as a human rights violation. However, several other African countries, including Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Egypt, and Sudan have rates of FGM above 80%.

FGM affects 200 million women and girls worldwide and putting an end to this practice is essential for achieving gender equality.