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Grieving Father decides to become an End-FGM Campaigner, Galmudug region, Somalia

By Hassan Istiila and Ruth Harley

 Its been two months since 13-year-old Fartun Hassan Ahmed bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). Since this tragedy, her grieving father Hassan Ahmed Jimale has become an anti-FGM campaigner. 

Fartun was cut in the small village of Jeerinle, the Galmudug regional state in Somalia on the 11th of July 2021. 

About Hassan Ahmed Jimale

Hassan is an 80-year old blind man and goat herder. He is a nomadic pastoralist, which means he is constantly on the move with his family searching for water and pasture for his animals. He is from a resource-poor family, whose livestock numbers were depleted by drought and locust invasion swept over farms in the rural area in Galmudug.

Since the death of his daughter Fartun, many have visited the family, including relatives and residents – offering their condolences after the funeral.

 The death of Fartun was heard by the whole the village and entire the country. , Many have realised the impact that FGM has on girls.

In recent conversations Hassan shared :

My bereaved family is still grieving today. I am blind and my daughter was my right hand. She was always guiding me, cooking for me, and helping me in every way.

Hassan Ahmed Jimale

Hassan recounts how Fartun was good to him. In Somali culture, elders usually come together under a big tree in a rural area where they chat and same time reach big decisions for the village. She used to take him to that tree. 

“I miss her, even though I have other children. I had a lot of confidence in her. Today my life has changed. I am still saddened by the death of my daughter, and I am sure she will always be on my mind.”

Hassan Ahmed Jimale

She had been a hard worker and had helped to guide him.

“She used to do everything for me. She helped me, cooked for me, and took care of the animals when I was resting. She was taking me to tree so I could attend the chats with the other village elders.”

Hassan Ahmed Jimale

Since Fartuns death Hassan is against FGM:

At first, I did not know that it could cause problems. All my daughters were cut and I did not see any harm as we are nomadic pastoralists. I feel pain when I remember the day the girl was cut and when she was dying.

Hassan Ahmed Jimale

Below is an interview between (GMC) Media Graduate and Journalist Hassan Istiila and Fartun’s father Hassan Ahmed Jimale.

When did you first consider becoming an anti-FGM campaigner?

The idea came to my mind when my daughter died. I was forced to become an anti-FGM activist due to the death of my daughter who died of bleeding. When the elders and I get together at the tree for a chat, I always tell them about the problem of FGM.

They know that my daughter died of FGM. They listen to me when I talk about the topic.

Women, men and elders in his neighborhood have all told Hassan Ahmed Jimale that they have accepted the FGM awareness and that FGM will not be performed on another girl. 

What has changed in the community since Fartun passed away?

I vowed that girls in my village shall not go through FGM because my daughter died of FGM. I don’t want another child to die from the FGM practice. I warn the neighbors that girls are not to be subjected to FGM. 

How will Fartuns father act as an anti-FGM campaigner?

“Hasan Ahmed Jimale is an 80-year old blind man, therefore he can’t use a Smartphone, there are no radio or television stations nearby. These are the challenges on the ground. However, we are discussing how he can use anti-FGM messaging in public places such as wells, at big trees in the village where the villagers always sit down, and circumcision sites.”

Hassan Istiila
Elders play a very important role in Somali society and everyday life. They are negotiators, mediators, and counselors.

“What I believe as a journalist is that elders like him have a great opportunity to make a huge difference in such a rural community. In a community that has previously seen FGM as the norm, a tragedy like this can be a catalyst to make a big change.

Hassan Istiila
Fartun’s story was broadcast by BBC Somalia. It is a story that shook the nation. A story that won't be forgotten and will have an impact on ending FGM. 

Ifrah Ahmed ( founder of the Ifrah Foundation and partner for GMC) shared:

 “I first heard about Fartun’s story because of the work Global Media Campaign (GMC) is doing with journalists and grassroots campaigners. This proves that this form of work is effective. The quick response helps the campaigners stay motivated and report stories through the media in real-time. Therefore nothing is missed, the story is powerful and can have a big impact. I thank GMC for their attention and continuous support. If I didn’t get that support I wouldn’t be able to get the on-ground journalists and activists to work quickly and efficiently on stories like Fartun’s.”  

Ifrah Ahmed

The impact of Wide Media Coverage:

Ifrah Foundation will be running a dear-daughter campaign at the end of September, which will include participation from the Minister of religion and minister of gender in Somalia. These ministers learned of the death of Fartun which has pushed them to make significant plans in ending FGM. The religious leaders now feel that they need a committee to fight and end FGM. 

“Hasan Ahmed Jimale, Fartuns father has already done a lot to help. If we continue to give him Support… he can be the champion for others in rural areas”

Ifrah Ahmed

 In Somalia, an estimated 98% of women and girls undergo FGM, most before the age of 10. 

Ifrah continues…

“This is one case, but it is one case is too many. Because of the GMC activity, things are changing. At the same time, in July 2018 Deca a ten-year-old from the same region also died from undergoing FGM. It’s very difficult but I’m very happy GMC is in Somalia.”

Ifrah Ahmed
“I want to get it done ... we all cherish GMC very much ... I speak on behalf of the other activists .. GMC is never tired.. they care they believe and they act... Any time I want to do something I know possible thanks to GMC." Ifrah Ahmed.
End-FGM poster is held and a photo taken with the community of Jeerinle, Somalia.

Ruth Harley

Ruth Harley is working with GMC as a Website News Editor, compiling stories written by End FGM campaigners working with the Global Media Campaign to End FGM across Africa. Alongside this work, she is running The Women’s Vinyl Project which empowers women and girls through singing and music and is helping to end FGM.