How many more girls will we lose? This has been a heartbreaking few weeks that should make us all stop and think if we are doing enough to end the human rights abuse that is female genital mutilation.
On Monday, news broke from Burkina Faso, where 50 girls were hospitalised after undergoing FGM. Some girls were as young as 10 months. Although FGM has been illegal in Burkina Faso since 1996, girls are being cut at younger ages to avoid detection by authorities.
The same day in Somalia, a fourth girl in just over two months died from undergoing FGM. The Guardian reports: “Suheyra Qorane Farah was cut along with her sister, Zamzam. Both bled profusely and fell into a coma. Zamzam’s condition improved, but Suheyra’s worsened. She was diagnosed with tetanus and died on 17 September.”
Suheyra’s death comes days after two sisters, Aasiyo and Khadijo Farah Abdi Warsame, bled to death after FGM. They were 10 and 11 years old.
In July, 10-year-old Deeqa Dahir Nuur haemorrhaged to death from FGM. Her death was thought to be a wakeup call for Somalia, which has the world’s highest FGM prevalence rate at 98 percent.
These are just the stories we know about. FGM is a practice shrouded in secrecy, and not every story makes news headlines.
Change isn’t happening quickly enough. Three million girls are at risk every year from FGM. That is one girl every eight seconds. How many more girls will lose their lives before we step up efforts to end FGM? We urgently need to invest in girls and women, support survivors, and fund women-led organisations at the local level.
We call on:
Politicians to use their positions of power to take a stand against FGM.
Donors to fund ending FGM and women’s empowerment projects.
Men to use their privilege and stand up for the women and girls in their lives.
Young people to lead this change, so that the next generation never knows the pain of FGM.
Everyone reading this to use the power of your voice. Don’t look away. Don’t think this is someone else’s problem. FGM is a human rights violation and we need solidarity from across the globe to end it.
To Suheyra, Aasiyo, Khadijo, Deeqa, and all the girls whose names we don’t know, we won’t let the world forget you. We will keep fighting until FGM is history.