A Day like No Other – By Alimatu Dimonekene (Anti FGM Campaigner and Community Activist ProjectACEi)
For most women and girls, their wedding night or giving birth to a baby should be the most happiest and joyous occasion of their lives. But, for many women and girls around the world who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM) those days are marred in anguish, fear and sometimes death. In most instances, a girl born into a FGM affected community has a sanction. She will inevitable undergo three painful stages of her life; circumcision, night of her wedding and giving birth. FGM often occurs on or around the puberty stage leaving many girls scarred for life. For some women, not all, sexual intercourse comes with many complications and therefore not a pleasurable experience. Child birth equally devastating experience combined with mental anguish. In almost all instances, women and girls are left with lasting traumatic experiences. Moreover, the way FGM is perform, the age at which the practice takes place; and the reasons to perform the practice differs widely. Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision, cutting or sunna) refers to all procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons (2014 NHS). FGM has been illegal across the UK since 1985 and carries a maximum 14 year prison sentence.
There are four types of FGM and all equally painful with lifelong health consequences for the victims.
Why does tackling FGM matter?
Well, it is estimated that over 140 million women and girls worldwide have undergone the practice of female genital mutilation. In England and Wales it is estimated over 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM, born in countries where FGM is practiced, were permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011. A highly critical Home Affairs Committee inquiry chaired by Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP called for an immediate action plan to tackle the growing practice of female genital mutilation. Mr Vaz described the failure to protect girls as a ‘national scandal’. Read more
New Measures announced by David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the global Girl Summit in London, said Britain had no “special magic” to stop the practices – so global action was needed. Read More
The Government also announced a range of measures to tackle FGM in the UK (except Scotland) which includes:
◾Training for teachers, doctors and social workers to identify and help girls at risk
◾Lifelong anonymity for victims.
◾New guidance for police on handling FGM cases.
◾A £1.4 million prevention programme, in partnership with NHS England, to care for survivors and safeguard those at risk.
◾A new specialist FGM service which will include social services, to “proactively identify and respond to FGM”.
Very strong commitments to Ending FGM
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-president of the European Commission in November 2013 said
“Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation is a policy to which the European Union is committed throughout its external action. We are engaged with partner countries around the world in working towards the eradication of this act that violates the rights of women and girls and harms them in many ways. The adoption of this strategy [to fight FGM in the European Union and beyond] today is a demonstration of our joint commitment. The EU’s tools and resources, political and economic, will be used to promote initiatives and support laws to help create a world where no girl will have to face this cruel and intolerable practice.”
Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General, Council of Europe said in July 2014,
“All need to act now to improve the lives of the many women and girls who are subjected to violence, simply because of their gender.”
In October 2014, a new UK’s global campaign to support work to end FGM the Girl Generation was launched last October in Nairobi Kenya, with a side-event in the Southbank Centre, London. Efua Dokenoo, Program Director, The Girl Generation who sadly passed away after a brief illness just before the launch said;
“Having been part of the anti-FGM movement for over thirty years, it is my pleasure to be part of today’s launch of The Girl Generation: Together To End FGM’. This global initiative will use innovative marketing and communications approaches to accelerate an end to this human rights violation – one of the gravest of our time. The good news is that FGM abandonment is increasing on the African continent, but we are at a critical point, where new financial injections are urgently needed. It is vital that we work together to ensure that countries are supported in their efforts to end this extreme form of violence against women and girls in this generation, once and for all”.
Together we can end FGM
New measures aimed at bringing an end to female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK announced yesterday in time for the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. Read More
Berhane Ras-Work, founding president of the IAC and one of 12 experts on FGM/C who were interviewed for this report said in a report for the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) that,
“The future is bright. Success has been premised on strengthening conviction, not on using force.”
This is dedicated to the great men and women championing change to ending FGM in this generation.
Want to join the campaign to End Female Genital Mutilation join ProjectACEi 20th March 2015 at the Standing Up to FGM at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield. Visit our website