By Claire Bickers
WHEN Adele Carles met the one-woman revolution that is Edna Adan, the former Fremantle MP knew she had to help her.
The former foreign minister of Somaliland is a driving force in the global campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation.
The 78-year-old runs a maternity hospital in the East African nation’s capital, Hargeisa, which she set up 14 years ago instead of retiring.
She has now trained more than 350 midwives, helped reduce the country’s infant mortality rate and is starting a university.
And Ms Carles wants the people of Perth to help do one small thing for her – raise funds for two washing machines to replace the hospital’s broken ones.
“It sounds a simple thing to us in Australia, we just go down to the shop [but] you can’t buy washing machines in Hargeisa,” she said. .
The former lawyer has just returned from two months volunteering at the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa
In Somaliland, 97 per cent of women undergo the traumatic process of female genital mutilation as young girls.
It’s an entrenched cultural practice to “cleanse” women but causes lifelong health problems, if it doesn’t kill the girls outright.
A WA couple were charged with allegedly taking their daughter overseas to undergo the procedure in 2012 but charges were later dropped with no prospect of a conviction.
The practice carries a maximum penalty of 10 years here.
The World Health Organization estimates more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone the practice.
“It’s something that’s embarrassing, it’s a taboo thing for us to discuss but it’s women that have to take this on because it’s a women’s issue,” Ms Carles said.
WA opera singers DivaLicious will perform opera comedy Licence to Trillnext Saturday at John Curtin College of the Arts to raise money for the appeal.
Tickets are $45; $20 for students 18 and under.