Part 2: A call to act: involving Religious Leaders in addressing sexual violence PDF Print

Religious leaders from different districts in Mogadishu were invited by Community Discussion Leaders for a second session of heated debate and discussion on the role they play in regard to addressing sexual violence in their communities.  Present were 40 religious leaders, 12 TBA (Traditional birth attendants), SWDC and CISP staff. Top of the agenda was addressing FGM and Early marriage; two issues that the leaders did not arrive to a consensus in the previous workshop. To seek clarity, prominent sheikhs were invited to give their views on the matter.

Sheikh Muse Ahmed Isse addressed the early marriage issue, and this is what he had to say, “In Islamic societies, the boundaries between culture and religious laws have become blurry, leading to the justification of the practice.  Islam favors early marriage to prevent forbidden sexual relations; however marriage partners are also supposed to have reached physical and mental maturity. We as Muslims shouldn't base marriage practices on an historical context. I would like to clearly inform my fellow sheikhs and everyone here that lets us totally abandon this practice for the betterment of our children’s wellbeing.”

Sheikh Mohamed views on FGM were, “This is a harmful ritual, we need understanding of why it persists; we can work with communities especially the TBAs and mothers to end this practice. If we make them understand the effects of the act, they can make a big difference in the community.”

“The health consequences of FGM are both immediate and life-long. It has badly affected the physical, mental and psycho-social wellbeing of most Somali girls and women. This is the same experience that our daughters and sisters will experience if we don’t stop this harmful practice,” said Nadia.

Shiekh Musse concluded by adding, “FGM is a deep-rooted social practice that is also nowadays a requirement for marriage in Somalia. If we are to bring about lasting cultural change, communities must collectively reject the practice. Community abandonment of the custom would reduce the stigma and social isolation of uncircumcised girls and their families.”

By the end of the workshop the participants were in agreement that community involvement is necessary to curb sexual violence in the society.





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