MOGADISHU, Somalia —- A campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia involving Irish people is hopeful of winning a strong endorsement this weekend from religious leaders in Mogadishu.
As organisers were putting the final touches to the campaign, its urgency was underlined by reports emerging this week that a 10-year-old Somali girl bled to death as a result of her FGM going “wrong”.
The girl has been named as Deeqa Dahir Nuur. She was brought to a “traditional cutter” in Olol village in Galmudug state.
According to activist Hawa Aden Mohamed, reported in the Guardian, one of Deeqa’s veins was severed while mutilation was being carried out and, despite being taken to hospital, the bleeding was not controlled and she died.
Campaign organisers say they will use Deeqa’s tragedy to bring home forcefully why FGM should not be tolerated.
The Irish influence behind the new campaign, which starts on Sunday at an event in the Somalia the organisers are calling The Gathering, is strong.
The Gathering will include over 100 Somali notables including Zeinab Abdi, wife of the Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo; the country’s education minister, Abdirahman Dahir Osman, and health minister Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud. Perhaps most significantly, in terms of the campaign aims, a group of significant Somali imams (Islamic religious leaders) will also be present.
Also there will be Ireland’s ambassador to Kenya, Vincent O’Neill, who also represents Ireland in Somalia and whose embassy is strongly supportive of the campaign, and Ifrah Ahmed, the Somali-born Irish woman advising the Somali government on FGM and whose Dublin-based foundation campaigns against the practice world-wide.
She and Irish film-maker Mary McGuckian are putting the finishing touches to A Girl From Mogadishu, which will be released in September.
Other Irish interests behind the campaign include Dr John Climax and his Human Dignity Foundation, and journalist Maggie O’Kane, chief executive of the London-based organisation Global Media Campaign to End FGM.