“We’ve seen a massive increase [of FGM cases] in recent weeks,” said Sadia Allin, Plan International’s head of mission in Somalia.
"When the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the alarm about the Covid-19 epidemic, it surely didn't anticipate that the economic downturn would also affect the income of circumcisers in Somalia and elsewhere in Sub-Sahara Africa who've been knocking on doors to offer their barbaric services in order to make hands meet" deplores Abi Sanon, FGM survivor and head of Clitoraid in Africa. "Consequently, thousands of young girls who were held back in their homes have endured genital mutilation in the past 2 months".
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has warned that the pandemic could lead to an extra 2 million girls worldwide being cut in the next decade.
"Ever since its inception over a decade ago, Clitoraid has been active worldwide in its fight against FGM" says Sanon. "Dr. Marci Bowers, our volunteer chief surgeon based in San Francisco and the surgeons she's trained, have already restored the clitoris of over 600 FGM survivors over the last decade. As a result, all of us, survivors, have been made whole and dignified again." explains Sanon.
Clitoraid's hospital in Burkina Faso, West Africa is dedicated to FGM victims and offers classes on sexual health while awaiting its opening.
"We are intent on seeing this gruesome practice disappear within one generation." insists Sanon.
FGM, which affects 200 million girls and women globally, involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. In Somalia the vaginal opening is also often sewn up – a practice called infibulation.
Clitoraid's 2021 humanitarian mission will be hosted by Dr. Adan Abdullahi, Kenyan surgeon who is originally from Somalia. Clitoral restorative surgeries were scheduled this fall but had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The previous two missions in Nairobi saw the clitoral restoration of a total of 120 patients.