Activists are saying the new law may fall short of fully protecting women.
This month, the Republic of Somaliland, a tiny, autonomous area of Somalia, made the news when it announced a religious fatwa, or edict, calling for the end of female genital mutilation (FGM).
But activists are concerned that the new law doesn’t go far enough to end the practice, which affects nearly 100% of girls in the region, The Guardian reports.
According to The Guardian, the fatwa only bans two of three forms of FGM, not banning the practice of partially or completely removing the clitoris.
“It’s a step in a good direction,” Ayan Mahamoud, resident representative of the Republic of Somaliland to the UK & Commonwealth, said of the fatwa. “Although we are not completely satisfied with the fatwa, having it will help the legislation to go through parliament and will save many young girls from abuse.”
Another activist, Guleid Ahmed Jama, told the Guardian that the involvement of religious leaders in the process “may set a precedent for future laws.”
While the fatwa itself does not constitute a legal decision, it paves the way for legislative action to create laws banning the practice and providing restitution to victims, Reuters reports.
“It took us 42 years to reach this day, but, this is not the end of the battle,” another activist, Edna Adan, tweeted after the edict was released.
Although the tides are changing, activists must also contend with public opinion about FGM. In rural areas, as many as 35% of women still supported FGM in 2014, according to UNICEF. In urban areas, around one in five women supported it.
Worldwide, more than 200 million women have undergone FGM, according to World Bank statistics.