Somaliland’s Children’s Act is first step towards ending FGM/C

1 February 2022

Plan International welcomes Somaliland’s landmark Children’s Act as ‘first step’ towards ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.

Adolescent

Today brings a glimpse of hope for all girls in Somaliland.

Somaliland has passed a landmark law protecting children from all forms of abuse and neglect, after the country’s first Children’s Act was approved by Parliament today.

Responding, Sadia Allin, Country Director for Plan International in Somalia and Somaliland said:

“Today brings a glimpse of hope for all girls in Somaliland. By outlawing all forms of child abuse and neglect, the new Children’s Act is a significant and vital step forwards towards eliminating Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), which is an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women and can never be safe.

Protecting girls from gender-based violence

“Somaliland has one of the highest rates of FGM/C in the world, with 98% of girls having undergone it – typically between the ages of five and 11. Before the Children’s Act, there were no national policies or laws against FGM/C, which has continued to encourage the practice. The new Act will, for the first time, address this legal vacuum. It will set out children’s fundamental rights and place a duty on parents, caregivers, the State and others to protect them.

“Strong and effective legal frameworks are a critical first step to ending violations of girls’ and women’s rights and the culture of impunity which often surrounds them. Plan International’s work in Somaliland won’t end here. We now need to see the national FGM/C policy approved, which explicitly sets out a commitment to ending this harmful practice, while redoubling our efforts to address the deep-rooted social and cultural norms which allow it to persist.

Girls must make informed decisions about their bodies

“We look forward to working with the government of Somaliland and other partners to make the Children’s Act a reality – so that every girl and woman has the autonomy and knowledge to make free and informed decisions about her body.”

Somaliland’s new Children’s Act sets out children’s rights so they are consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Optional Protocols and the Constitution of Somaliland by:

  • identifying the responsibilities of parents, families, guardians, care givers, society, and the State in the child’s upbringing, care and protection
  • ensuring that the child grows up in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding which promotes the development of the child’s full potential
  • consolidating child protection systems for the realisation of rights by the State