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Country profile - Somalia

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Information about Somalia. The dos and the dont's, business etiquette, general information about the country. The document was created for the project Info4migrants. Project number UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615

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Country profile - Somalia

  1. 1. Info4Migrants SOMALIACountry profile Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
  2. 2. 637,657km2 10,428mln POPULATION GDPper capita CURRENCY 1€ = approx 1000 sos $600 Languages SOMALI, ARABIC Somali Shilling (SOS) 2 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  3. 3. Somalia (Somali: Soomaaliya, Arabic: aṣ-Ṣūmāl) is on the Horn of Africa, and is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the north-west, and Kenya on its south-west. The country has the longest coastline on the African continent, and as such, has many beaches. The average temperature round the year is 20 to 40⁰C. This is a country with a troubled past. Civil war, military coups, border disputes and warlordism are the general course of events here. Things started to improve after the Ethiopian Army withdrew in 2007 after defeating an Islamist govern- ment, but since then violence has flared up again with the re-emergence of Islamist and other clan and warlord-affiliated militias. Somalia’s economy has been seriously hampered by years of fighting and political strife, as well as a severe long-term drought which has affected the whole of East Africa. Subsis- tence agriculture and livestock rearing occupy most of the working population. Oil and gas deposits have been located, but their exploitation has been in abeyance due to the lack of an effective central government. National Flag Coat of arms COUNTRY BACKGROUND MOGADISHU INDIAN OCEAN ETHIOPIA KENYA SOMALIA 3 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  4. 4. SOMALIA FACTS Independence Somalia comprises of 27 regions and was colonized by both Britain and France before it gained independence on July 1, 1960. British Somaliland gained independence from Britain on June 26, 1960 and Italian Somaliland gained independence from Italy just a few days after that on July 1, 1960. Religion and ethnic make-up The majority of Somalis are Sunni Muslims and a smaller percentage follows the Shia Muslim denomination and Sufism. The Somalis make up about 85% of the ethnic composition of Somalia, Bantus make up about 14%, and there are about 30, 000 Arabs in Somalia. Capital Mogadishu, also known as Xamar, is the capital of Soma- lia and its largest city with over a million inhabitants. The majority of Somalia citizens live in the countryside and in Mogadishu region; there are only a few major cities in the country. Literacy rate Reading and writing skills among Somalis over 15 years is 37.8%. Women’s literacy rate is lower, 25.8 percent com- pared with 49.7 percent for men (UNESCO, 2007). 4 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  5. 5. Clothing Men usually wear western style pants or a plaid ma’awis (kilt) western shirts and shawls. Women wear dresses, Direh, a long billowing dress that is worn over petticoats, a Coantino, a four-yard cloth tied over the shoulders and draped around the waist, Toob, commonly worn through- out Africa, Hijab, and head scarves are common. Beverages Because almost all people in Somalia are Muslims, they do not drink alcoholic beverages. The most common beverage in Somalia is tea, especially black tea sweetened with milk and sugar. Drinking 4-6 cups of sweet tea a day is common. Some nomads drink a fermented beverage called chino, which is made by burying camel’s milk in a leather flask for a week. Kahawa (coffee) is another popular beverage in Soma- lia. There are two methods of preparing it. The first involves mixing seeds from one or two cardamom pods, water, freshly ground coffee beans, ground cardamom and ground ginger in a saucepan and bringing to boil. Then reduce heat and main- tain at a low boil for ten to fifteen minutes. The second meth- od requires you to bring water and cardamom seeds to a boil. Keep on a low boil for ten minutes. Add coffee. Simmer for five minutes more. Add ground cardamom and ginger. Dating and marriage Dating is not the same in Somalia as it is in the west. Young urban people usually meet in universities or at work and try to get their parents to establish a court- ship for them. Marriages in the rural areas are usually arranged. Dating one on one doesn’t happen until after the engagement or until the marriage contract is signed. Usually, weddings are spread over 3 nights of dancing and singing, where women and men celebrate separate- ly. The groom has to give a bridal token to the bride’s family. SOMALIA FACTS 5 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  6. 6. SOMALIA FACTS Food Somali cuisine reflects the people’s clever use of scarce resources. People usually begin the day with a flat bread called canjero or laxoo, liver, and either cereal or por- ridge made of millet or cornmeal. The midday meal is the largest and consists of rice or noodles (pasta became very popular under Italian rule) with sauce and perhaps meat. The evening meal is very light and might include beans, muffo (patties made of Oats or corn) or a salad with more canjero. Somalis adore spiced tea, but sheep, goat and camel’s milk are also popular. Myrrh For thousands of years Somalia was referred to as “Regio Aromatica”, because it was believed to be the home of myrrh, the traditional gift for baby Jesus. Myrrh was a dried resin that was highly valued for its aromatic proper- ties and for medical purposes. Somali people It is estimated that there are between 15-17 million So- mali people (Soomaaliyeed) living in the Horn of Africa. About 8.7 million live in Somalia, 4.5 million in Ethiopia, 1 million in Kenya and 1 million in Djibouti. A signifi- cant number of Somalis also live in the Middle East and abroad. Somalis are reported to have started appearing in the region at around 1200 AD. The clan groupings of the Somali people are important social units, and clan membership plays a central part in Somali culture and politics. Clans are patrilineal and are divided into sub- clans and sub-sub-clans, resulting in extended families. Learnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com6 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  7. 7. 1 January: New Year Besides being the 1st day of the new year in the Gregori- an calendar, this date is also an official date of birth of many Somali people: due to the lack of documentation, they are usually assigned the first day of the year of their birth as their birthday. 1 May: International Labour Day People of Somalia celebrate international Labour Day by attending parades and artis- tic performances. June 26: Independence Day of Somaliland The day is marked with speeches fostering unity and peace, hoisting of flag, sing- ing of national anthem and colorful police parade. July 1: Independence Day of Somalia The date commemorates the union of the Trust Terri- tory of Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland) and the State of Somaliland (the for- mer British Somaliland) on July 1, 1960, which formed the Somali Republic. Moveable date in July: Neeroosh Neeroosh celebrates the be- ginning of the solar year in Somalia and Somaliland. The festival is known internation- ally as the Festival of Fire, as locals build huge bonfires, splash water on each other, and dance to welcome the arrival of summer. Moveable date in August: End of Ramadan This religious holiday marks of the end of Ramadan. This day is a celebration of every- one’s efforts and sacrifices. The day is marked with cer- emonies in mosques around the region, the gathering of friends and families to enjoy great feasts. Moveable date in October: Feast of the Sacrifice The holiday lasts for two or three days and is held to commemorate the willing- ness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his first-born son to the Lord. In accordance with the story, locals slaughter a sheep, thus performing the same act as Ibrahim. The sheep is then cooked and used as a basis for a feast among fami- ly and friends. Moveable date in Novem- ber: Day of Ashura This holiday is a day of mourning for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who died at the Battle of Karbala. The day is com- memorated by both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. Muslim communities come out into the streets in their thou- sands to show their mourn- ing. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 7 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  8. 8. SOMALIA ECONOMY Somalia is one of the world’s poorest countries, and many gains made during the years after independence were lost in the destruction brought about by civil war in the 1990s. However, in 2000, individuals had begun to help rebuild cities through independent businesses. Basic Economy Among the factors hindering economic development is lack of adequate transportation. The country has no railroads, only one airline, and few paved roads. Financial assistance from the United States helped improve Somalia’s major seaports and Mogadishu Inter- national Airport during the 1980s. Telecommunication systems were largely destroyed during the Civil War. However, in 1999, independent businessmen in some towns estab- lished satellite telephone systems and electricity, and Somali livestock traders and other entrepreneurs conducted much of their business by telephone. Also banking networks were established. The basic monetary unit is the Somali shilling, with one hundred cents equal to one shil- ling. A large amount of the income received by Somalis comes from Somalis who have migrated to other countries to find work and send money and goods home to relatives. Land Tenure and Property In precolonial times, land claims were made by families and through bargaining among clan members. During European colonization, Italians established plantations in the riv- erine area and settled many poor Italian families on the land to raise crops. Since inde- pendence, much of this land has been farmed by Somalis. Somali nomads consider pastureland available to all, but if a family digs a water well, it is considered as their possession. Under Siad Barre’s socialist regime, there was an effort to lease privately owned land to government cooperatives, but Somalis resented work- ing land they did not own. Some land was sold in urban areas, but grazing land contin- ued to be shared. Commercial Activities In the colonial era, Italians developed banana, sugarcane, and citrus fruit plantations in southern Somalia. These again thrived in the late twentieth century with Italian assis- tance after a decade of decline due to high government taxation of exports in the 1980s. 8 Learnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com8 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  9. 9. SOMALIA ECONOMY Livestock and animal products make up a large portion of the goods produced in Somalia. The country’s few natural resources, such as gypsum-anhydrite, quartz, uranium, iron ore, and possibly gold, have not been widely exploited. Major Industries Although Somalia is not an industrialized nation, there are some industries, such as fish and meat canneries, milk-processing plants, sugar refineries, leather-tanning factories, and pharmaceutical and electronics factories. Many of these were built with the help of foreign nations, such as the former Soviet Union. Some mining and petroleum exploration has been done, with the help of Middle Eastern countries. Trade Transportation equipment, machinery, cement and other building materials, iron, and steel are major imports of Somalia. Most of the imports come from Italy, Ethiopia and Kenya, China, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, the United States, and Great Britain. Live- stock is the country’s main export, especially camels, which are sold to Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations. Animal hides also are exported. Bananas are the chief crop export. Coffee, cotton, peanuts, mangoes, citrus fruits, and sugarcane are other important crops. Fishing and the export of frankincense and myrrh add to the economy. Division of Labor More than half of all Somalis are self-employed, as herders, farmers, or independent business owners. In the cities, some workers once held government jobs, and in 2000 a growing percentage of workers had factory, plantation, or fishing-industry jobs. Among rural Somalis of the Saab clan-family, lower castes still provide certain types of goods and services. Unemployment rate The unemployment rate in Somalia is difficult to estimate. According to the United Na- tions report, the unemployment rate was around 54 per cent in 2012, with unemploy- ment among young people aged 14 to 29 up to 67 percent. 9 Learnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com9 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  10. 10. DOS AND DONT’S GREETINGS DO: • Shake hands whenever you meet or bid farewell to a Somali. • Always offer your right hand; the left hand sym- bolizes uncleanliness and is used for personal hygiene. • Rise to show respect whenever an important per- son enters the room. • Be aware that it is custom- ary for Somali men to greet each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. This is a sign of friendship. DO NOT: Use Somali greetings (spo- ken or gestured) unless you are sure how to use them correctly. CONVERSATION DO: • Open conversations with small talk. • Maintain eye contact. • Place your feet flat on the floor if you are sitting on a chair, or fold them under you if you are sitting on the floor. • Demonstrate verbal skill. Verbal facility is highly val- ued in Somali society. If you can recite a poem or a tongue-twister, you will gain respect for your skill. • Avoid arguments. • Bring photographs of your family to show during con- versations. DO NOT: • Show impatience or undue haste. • Ask direct or personal questions, especially about female family members. • Criticize a Somali directly. This will cause him to lose face and respect for you. • Patronize or talk down to a Somali, even if he does not speak English very well. • Do not move away from a Somali who stands “close” to you during conversation. • It is customary for a Soma- li to stand about one foot away. RELIGION DO: • Understand and respect the devotions of Muslims. • Respect the requirement for Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. In 1993, Ramadan correspond- ed to a period from about 22 February to 30 March. Following Ramadan is the festival known as Eid AL Fitr, which is celebrated for three days after Ramadan ends. DO NOT: Enter a mosque unless invit- ed. If invited, remove your shoes before entering. • Pass in front of a prayer rug while a Muslim is in prayer. • Take photographs of a Muslim while he is in prayer or stare at them. • Eat, smoke, or drink in public from sunrise to sun- set or offer food, beverages, or tobacco products to Mus- lims during the holy month of Ramadan. HOSPITALITY DO: • If given a gift, give a gift in return (at a later date) of slightly lesser value. • Thank your host profusely for his hospitality and good conversation. Plan to return the hospitality. • Accompany your guest outside the door or gate when he leaves. DO NOT: • Praise too much any pos- session of your host; he may give it to you. If he does, you are expected to give some- thing in return. • Appear anxious to end a visit. 10 Learnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com10 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  11. 11. The clan groupings of the Somali people are important social units, and clan membership plays a central part in Somali culture and politics. Clans are patrilineal and are often divid- ed into sub-clans, sometimes with many sub-divisions. PEOPLE IN SOMALIA Unlike many African nations, Somalia is composed of a single, homogeneous ethnic group. Although Somalis may differ in nuances of local lifestyle, they share a uniform lan- guage, religion, and culture, and trace their heritage to a common ancestor. In 1975, the most prominent government reforms regarding family law in a Muslim country were set in motion in the Somali Democratic Republic, which put women and men, including husbands and wives, on completely equal footing. The 1975, Somali Family Law gave men and women equal division of property between the husband and wife upon divorce and the exclusive right to both to manage his or her personal property. In 1991, people began leaving the country to escape the hunger, rape, and death that had become widespread. Over one million people fled to neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Yemen, and Burundi. Most stayed in large refugee camps that were established to house the Somalis. Resettlement programs have enabled families to move to Europe and the United States. 11 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  12. 12. Greetings and Displays of Respect Many social norms are derived from Islamic tradition, and thus may be similar to other Islamic countries. The com- mon way to greet someone is to say “salam alechem” (roughly translated as “God bless you”) and to shake their hand. Due to Islamic tradition, men and women do not touch each other. Thus men shake the hands of other men, and women shake each other’s hands. When departing, the common phrase is “nabad gelyo” (“goodbye”). Respect is paid to the elders of the community. Elders are addressed as “aunt” or “uncle,” even if they are strangers. Gestures Somalis use sweeping hand and arm gestures to dramatize speech. Many ideas are expressed through specific hand gestures. Most of these gestures are performed by women: • A swift twist of the open hand means “nothing” or “no”. • Snapping fingers may mean “long ago” or and “so on” • A thumb under the chin indicates “fullness”. • It is impolite to point the sole of one’s foot or shoe at another person. • It is impolite to use the index finger to call somebody; that gesture is used for calling dogs. • The American “thumbs up” is considered obscene by the majority of Somalis. Dining Etiquette • Only use your right hand when eating. • Do not offer anything to another person with your left hand. • Sharing a meal and eating from the same plate is the best way to get to know someone. • Be sincere and show appreciation. • Do not start eating before your host has started. • If you are hosting a dinner, when you start eating, you show the guests they can start as well. Somali dining etiquette is generally the same as those in the rest of the region, with other influences. For example, the Yemeni tradition of having a khat (as qat is referred to in So- malia) chew in the afternoon is common among Somali men. IMPORTANT TIPS 12 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  13. 13. Marriage Marriages can either be arranged or be a result of personal choice. The common age of marriage is around 14 or 15 years old. Men who can afford to do so, may have up to 4 wives, as is customary in Islamic tradition. However, not all wealthy men exercise this op- tion. In urban areas, a man with multiple wives provides separate homes for his different families. Whether these families interact or not depends on the preference of the individ- uals involved. In rural areas, it is more common for a man with more than one wife to have a single household, where the families care for the farm or livestock together. Women wear white clothing during mourning period for her husband who passed away. Both men and women can remarry. Women often seek a new marriage with a brother or a cousin of her late husband, if she has many male children to support. Gender Roles As in many Islamic cultures, adult men and women are separated in most spheres of life. Although some women in the cities hold jobs, the preferred role is for the husband to work and the wife to stay at home with the children. Female and male children participate in the same educational programs. Somalia has a literacy rate of 37,8%. The literacy rate of women is 25,8%. Family and Kinship Structure There are several main clans in Somalia and many, many subclans. In certain regions of the country a single subclan will predominate, but as the Somalis are largely nomadic, it is more common for several subclans to live intermixed in a given area. Membership in a clan is determined by paternal lineage. Marriage between clans is common. When a wom- an marries a man of another clan, she becomes a member of that clan, though retains connection with her family and its clan. Extended Families Living with extended families is the norm. Young adults who move to the city to go to school live with relatives rather than alone. Similarly, people who do not marry tend to live with their extended families. Divorce does occur, though proceedings must be initiated by the husband. FAMILY IN SOMALIA 13 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  14. 14. CORPORATE CULTURE Business Attire Men Men is Somalia wear basically casual busi- ness wear on a daily basis. They wear dress shoes and never tennis shoes. Wearing jeans is not as common, and gen- erally they are not worn. Casual slacks such as khakis or other colored dress pants are worn every day. Men leave their shirts always untucked, unless wearing a tie. Their casual style is a reflection on their laid back attitudes. Men are not to shake hands with men un- less they are close relatives or family mem- bers. Women should wear conservative cloth and fabrics, skirts and dresses are favored. Women do not wear anything too revealing and keep to the conservative colors. Women must wear a headscarf at all times in Somalia. It leaves only their face visible. Women wear flat shoes or low heels. Women are not to shake hands with men unless they are close relatives or family members. A normal business week in Somalia is Saturday through Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are con- sidered their weekend days such as our Saturday and Sunday. 14 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  15. 15. Conversations and Networking The official language of Somalia is Somali yet Arabic, English and Italian are also very common. English is more common in the north of Somalia and Italian is more common in the central and south of Somalia, whereas Ara- bic is spoken throughout the country. You must be able to speak Arabic to grad- uate from high school in most parts of the country. Generally, English and Italian are both taught in private schools only in the eve- nings and sometimes in the weekends. The most common way of greeting in So- mali is ASSALAMU ALAIKUM which simply means “God be with you” Hugging and shaking hands with the oppo- site sex is not common. Avoiding too much of eye contact with the opposite sex is considered respectful. Meetings, Presentations, and Negotiation Tactics A normal business week in Somalia is Satur- day through Wednesday. Depending on your career, as an occupant in Somalia you may work on Thursday but absolutely no one works on Fridays. A normal business day in Somalia is from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.. Once again, the laid back attitude and life- style are reflected in daily life. In general, meetings start within 30 min- utes of the scheduled time. This gives time for anyone running late for whatever rea- sons. In general, most Somali people prefer not to schedule meeting on Fridays. Every Friday is considered a holiday. Peo- ple visit friends and relatives and as well as spend time with family. CORPORATE CULTURE 15 Learnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com15 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  16. 16. INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS Status, Roles, and Prestige Children and elders share mutual respect. When ad- dressing another family member or friend, words for “aunt,” “uncle,” “brother,” “sister,” and “cousin” are used depending on the person’s age relative to the speaker. Men are usually the head of the household. Women manage the finances and take care of the children. It is considered culturally unacceptable for a man to not be perceived as being in charge of his home. At the wedding ceremony, the groom is told by the elder/sheik/father/ father-in-law that he is responsible for feeding his family and respecting his wife. Most women in Somalia now work outside the home, due to increasing financial hard- ships primarily caused by war and resulting inflation. In Somalia, working women tend to have more flexibility and community support than in the Western countries and main- taining a household and obtaining childcare is not as stressful. In the Western countries, it is also common for women to work outside the home. It can be difficult for women to balance homemaking and childcare responsibilities without the type of support available in Somalia. Because men traditionally don’t contribute to caring for children and house- work, excess strain on the relationship can lead to divorce. The civil war is based on interclan and interfactional conflicts. When addressing Somali culture, it is considered disrespectful to refer to “clans” or “tribes.” It is a very sensitive issue that is best avoided when in the Western countries, and some in the community will deny their existence. Tribes were names originally given in order to place families and locate people, but now they reinforce prejudices produced by the civil war. Family is extremely important in the Somali community. The focus of Somali culture is on the family; family is more important than the individual in all aspects of life. Soma- lis will live with their parents until they get married. In times of sickness or marriage, all resources are pooled and it is understood that whatever you have is not only yours. Somalis who have immigrated abroad will send money back to their families and even to close friends and neighbors. Country profile SOMALIA16 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  17. 17. IN EVERYDAY SITUATIONS Names, Naming Somali names have three parts. The first name is the given name, which is specific to the individual. The second name is the name of the child’s father, and the third name is the name of the child’s paternal grandfather. Thus siblings, both male and female, will share the same second and third names. Women, when they marry, do not change their names. By keeping the name of their father and grandfather, they are, in effect, maintaining their affili- ation with their clan of birth. General Etiquette The right hand is considered the clean and po- lite hand to use for daily tasks such as eating, writing, and greeting people. If a child begins to show left-handed preference, the parents will actively try to train him or her to use the right hand. Thus left-handedness is very un- common in Somalia. As proscribed by Moslem tradition, married women are expected to cover their bodies including their hair. In Somalia, some Somali women wear veils to cover their faces, but few do in the West as they find this a difficult custom to adhere to in Western society. Pants are not a gen- erally accepted form of attire for women, but may be worn under a skirt. The traditional women’s dress is called a hejab, and the traditional clothing for a man is called a maawis. The snug-fitting hat that men wear is a qofe. “ASSALAM ALAIKUM” - GOD BE WITH YOU 17 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  18. 18. PIRATES OF SOMALIA 1. They Have a Robin Hood Complex: Many Somali pirates see themselves as good guys. 2. Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like a Pirate: According to some estimates, pirates in 2008 pulled in as much as $150 million, indicating that piracy is now Somalia’s big- gest industry. 3. Being a Pirate Is Easy: Piracy is so simple that anyone can do it. All you need is a gun, an aluminum ladder and a motorboat. 4. The Law Can’t Touch Them: everybody knows piracy is wrong, but is it illegal? The truth is that the places where pirates oper- ate are actually lawless. 5. Pirates Rarely Kill People and also prefer to keep their prisoners in good health. 6. Pirates Have Friends in High Places: The biggest gangs have informants in Mombasa, the major port in the region, where ships have to file paperwork stating what they’re carrying and where they’re going. 7. Bigger Ships Mean Bigger Paychecks: Somali pirates are getting bolder. 8. Sailors Are Fighting Back, it is working. 9. Pirates Hurt Somalia the Most: The biggest victims of Somali piracy are the Somalis themselves. Nearly 4 million peo- ple there (half the population) depend on food donations to survive. But pirate attacks on food ships have made it difficult for the United Nations to keep sending provisions. 10. It May Be Time for Desperate Mea- sures: Even with the world’s navies rushing to protect East African shipping, the sheer size of the ocean and the huge numbers of ships involved mean warships are rarely in the right place at the right time. The Unit- ed Nations recently passed a resolution allowing an invasion, but the United States military has put the brakes on participating in any operation. Perhaps they are hesitant because of their last unsuccessful experi- ence sending troops to Somalia in 1993. And yet, it is becoming more and more clear that without major, international in- tervention, piracy will continue to grow. 10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT SOMALI PIRATES 18 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com
  19. 19. Approximately 6.5 million Somali girls and women have undergone female genital muti- lation/cutting (FGM/C), otherwise known as female circumcision (according to a report by UNICEF). FEMALE CIRCUMCISION Although support for the practice is waning, the report indicates that 98% of Somali women between 15 and 49 have been circumcised - the highest per capita percentage in the world. Lots of parents believe that this tradition protects the chastity of their daughters. Others are convinced that this will ensure that girls remain virgins until they are married. Sheikh Abubakar Moalim Ibrahim, a cleric in Mogadishu, said female circumcision is undesirable and neither a religious duty nor an obligation. “Female circumcision is neither a favour- able duty nor a sunnah and the prophet reprimanded women who performed this practice and directed them to only prac- tice ishmam,” he told Sabahi. Ishmam refers to “symbolic circumcision”, a form of cutting to draw blood, but with no removal of tissue and no permanent alteration of the external genitalia. While symbolic circumcision is still consid- ered a form of FGM/C, it is less invasive and has been proposed in some places as an alternative to more severe forms. 19 Country profile SOMALIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com

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