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International Day Against FGM- 6 Februaury- Zero Tolerance

On the 6th of February 2014, Action for Gender and Development (GAD) NGO, an NGO based in Puntland, Somalia, with the support of HIRDA Netherlands organized a one-day seminar in order to commemorate the International Day Against FGM and also to raise awareness . The meeting brought together some 60 people from youth organizations, civil society, the health sector, traditional elders and students and the media. A full report of the event will be sent by the end of the month to HIRDA.

AGAD NGO representatives Layla Mahamed and Muhubo Mohamoud welcome the participants and thanked HIRDA Netherlands for making this event a possibility. The group also gave details of the objectives of the seminar; namely the commemoration of the International Day against FGM and they briefly spoke about what it globally entailed. They explained the significance of the event within the framework of HIRDA’s Proud of Me campaign and the link with this AGAD Project.Various speakers included Mr. Mahamed Mohamoud Hussein, a traditional elder, also gave a speech about how tradition and gender based violence are linked. He explained that often times sexual violations are resolved by forcing or encouraging the victim to marry the perpetrator. He added that he didn’t want to say whether it was good or bad thing but that it was something that needs to be studied for what it is.
Mrs. Muhubo Sheikh, a doctor and a SGBV doctor at Mudug Hopital, also gave her input about the number of cases brought to the hospital and what kind of support the hospital in collaboration with a local NGO supports the victims after treatment. She explained that victims are typically given 250 USD by this local NGO which is funded with international funders. She argued that there was a strong need for systematic research on the patterns and prevalence of SGBV violations against women and children in Puntland.

Some of the recently appointed 12 FGM Ambassadors were also present and Mrs Fatumo Abdirizack gave a PowerPoint presentation (attached hereby) about the work of AGAD in the past 6 months such as the Proud of me FGM campaign, the computer and English training, the establishment of the 12 FGM Ambassadors, the advocacy and lobby trainings they had received in the past months and the 4 thematic the They also presented a position paper about the FGM and how it could be brought to an end. A representative from the IDP community Mrs. Sacdiyo Ismail spoke about sexual violence amongst the IDPs camps. She spoke about the gravity, the occurrences, the nature, the types of sexual violence and the victims amongst IDPs. She explained that SGBV among IDPs took place at a larger scale than many thought.

Mr Osman Ahmed, a police officer at the main police station. He was asked if the police and the hospital work together so as to strengthen the hospital-police cooperation and collaboration in resolving SGBV cases. He explained that there little or no such strategy but emphasized on the need for such. A recommendation came from AGAD NGO to create a hotline between the two and the possibility to conduct SGBV trainings for the police force and the custodian corps.
Mrs. Sahro Ahmed Koshin, took part in the seminar by phone. As you can hear from the video, Sahro first thanked HIRDA and in particular Mrs. Fatumo Farah for being in the forefront of Somali women’ empowerment. She also thanked the AGAD team facilitating the seminar. She thanked the participants and the speakers. She emphasized on the importance of the day’s meeting and topic. She thanked the speakers and explained that she was listening by phone and also via Skype and was able to follow the seminar.

She clarified how the idea of discussing sexual violence against children came about during a day dedicated to FGM issues. She explained what SGBV stood for according to international definitions and how the issues were interlinked. She spoke about the plight of children who are sexually molested adding that the issue in Puntland is not given due attention. She explained how a case of rape against of a 6 year old was recently brought to her attention. She explained that the little girl was raped by a close relative and how the issue was kept silent and the perpetrator left to walk free. She highlighted that talking about violence against women is still a women’s issue and hardly any men spoke about it. Those that did talk about are frowned upon and it is epidemic that happens behind closed doors and it is resolved behind closed doors to the detriment of women and girls.

Some recommendations came out of the meeting and these were;
- Include men in discussion in fight against violence against women
- Create a hotline between police and health posts to as to help the victim better
- AGAD NGO and others to give periodic trainings to police force in SGBV
- Encourage students at PSU and other universities to conduct research n patterns and prevalence of SGBV issues in Puntland
- Create a network of organizations that work SGBV
The meeting then proceeded with some cultural performances with women reciting buranbuur. After that there was opportunity for refreshments and social networking.

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