As a female born and raised in Somaliland, I find that no one seems to understand what women need in Somaliland. Sure, we want to be given our fair share in government institutions. But the topic that gets the most attention and probably the most funding is FGM. I am here to tell you that while it is a problem, it is the least of what women face in Somaliland.

To be clear, I have never been outside of Somaliland and do not adhere to some western notion of what it is to be a women, nor am I a raving feminist who is demanding changes to our share of inheritance. I am very comfortable in my role as a modern Muslim women.

As young women, I faced issues that I had no one to turn to and could not openly discuss even with my own mother. No one has prepared me for the profound changes that my body would undergo when I reached a certain age. To this day, I suffer anxiety due to the traumatic experience of my first period and what I thought was happening to me.

I imagine every girl who comes of age in Somaliland suffers the same fate of finding out how traumatic it is to transition to womanhood.

I feel the piercing gaze of male shop owners when I try to buy feminine products. Every time… and I am tempted to remind them that yes I have female genitals just like every other female human in the world. But I do not.

It does not stop there, I dread the thought of going to the market to buy underwear.

The problems I face as a female in Somaliland are those of backward thinking that treats everything about a women as a taboo. Not just our bodies and reproductive health, we cannot even hang our intimate clothes outside to dry them.

Women in Somaliland do not have access to basic OB/GYN services or even access to information resources to help them take care of themselves in that special time. It is even worse for women living outside of major towns.

FGM is the one issue that gets the most attention when it comes to women issues and I believe even one girl who undergoes this barbaric act is one too many I support the effort of women trying to get our fair share of the government and that is a high aspiration but at the same time I want them to not forget our most basic problems.

To my male counterparts, I want them to understand that every time you look at a women in a way that makes her uncomfortable, remember that someone, somewhere is looking at your sister or possibly mother the same way and making her uncomfortable.

About the Author Anonymous female.

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  1. Thank you sister! I can relate! FGM is a ‘normalized and glorified’ abuse of women’s bodies and it is time it came to an end. But you are correct about the newer versions of ‘normalized and acceptable’ abuse of women’s rights in the society. It is okay to make a woman uncomfortable because she came out to shop without that ‘niqaab’! It is okay to force her to hide who she is biologically because it makes the men uncomfortable. All this won’t change until Somali men can see that there is more to women than cooking, cleaning and reproducing! Until they learn to trust women as political leaders and change makers, they will continue to stare and wonder why she is not at home like a good woman should.