FGM (female circumcision) is illegal and cruel – and culturally challengeable everywhere

Today, 6 February, is the United Nations’ International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation. We must all face up to the facts; FGM happens in communities in the UK and Western Europe as well as elsewhere.

In Britain debate this week is about ‘multiculturalism’ (or not), and the ‘war on terror’.  It would be far better if instead we took courage to find ways urgently to defend the human rights and physical health of girls and young women who still experience FGM as a rite of passage to adulthood.  This too is a cultural issue, but one where respect for women and girls must stop the terror and violence, perpetrated on them as individuals, by cultural beliefs which give rise to the practice of FGM.

Please sign and forward this e-petition (for UK citizens), posted 25 June 2012 on the HM Government website:

STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain

If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag   #NoFGM   and follow  @NoFGM1.  Thank you.

We shall not here go into the details of the cruel and dangerous ordeal inflicted on the girls involved. Suffice to say the practice is abhorrent, yet the United Nations reports that FGM is currently practised in 28 African countries, at least.

140 million women now living in Africa (or with connections there) have been subjected to mutilation already, and another 2 million are at risk every year.  In Egypt alone 97% of women have suffered FGM – though recent campaigns have brought the figure down to a still horrifying 91%, for young girls.

The challenge in halting this dreadful rite of passage is fundamental.  Young women have been (are) perceived in their own communities as ‘unclean’ and unmarriageable if they did (or do) not undergo it.

Changing perceptions amongst those who practice FGM is the really important issue, so there is hope when we learn that people such as Sister Fa (a soul and hip-hop musician from Senegal, now living in Berlin) have joined the United Nations campaign.  These campaigners are urging their communities of origin to abandon mutilation and instead devise non-violent rites of passage for young women.

Surely the time has come also for serious action in the UK on this issue?   FGM still happens – perhaps increasingly – in some communities here, as well as in Africa.

Instead of their noisy current focus on certain groups of people as ‘threats’, senior politicians and civic leaders should be working calmly, sensitively and unceasingly to protect innocent young women from physical mutilation – and from the (current) humiliation and ostracising by their own communities which ensues if the already-illegal ‘cutting’ isn’t done.  Things have to change.

Delivering this change is a really delicate task culturally, given the fundamental requirement also to be constantly vigilant that no harm – physical or social –  becomes those requiring protection.

It’s nonetheless shameful that powerful people in Britain continue to shy away.  Female circumcision is an extremely unpleasant issue.  That however absolutely does not excuse us from doing everything possible to bring it to an end, everywhere it occurs.

Our own queasiness is the shield behind which civic leaders hide.  But this discomfort is less than nothing, compared to the life-threatening agony experienced when young girls even now are forced by their own families and communities to endure such cruel mutilation.

Talk by political leaders of multiculturalism as a ‘threat’ is amorphous, divisive and personally offensive to many decent people from a range of cultures.  Moves to banish the ‘cultural’ practice of FGM on the other hand are deeply meaningful and desperately needed to protect defenceless children.

FGM, wherever it occurs, is barbaric.

If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag   #NoFGM   and follow  @NoFGM1.  Thank you.

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7 Responses to FGM (female circumcision) is illegal and cruel – and culturally challengeable everywhere

  1. PinkPolitika says:

    This article has just appeared in The Guardian:

    ‘The midwife on a mission to stop female genital mutilation’ ~ After Cath Holland witnessed the effects of the operation she set out to persuade an entire Kenyan province to renounce it……

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/apr/15/female-genital-mutilation-midwife-kenya

  2. PinkPolitika says:

    Today another horrific story appears in The Guardian.

    We are told that the scale of so-called ‘honour killings’ IN BRITAIN is only now becoming clear:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/03/honour-crimes-cases?INTCMP=SRCH

    We are also told that the frequency of this terrible crime is probably much higher even than thus far measured.

    If that is so, it must surely also be likely that FGM is more frequently inflicted on defenceless children than previously thought.

    How many more girls and young women in the UK will be killed or damaged beyond repair before these unimaginably grim crimes become a serious priority for British politicians and the police?

  3. Pingback: Hilary Burrage: Female Genital Mutilation in Britain: The Scandal About to Break… | Country Talk Forum

  4. Pingback: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) In Britain: A Scandal About To Break…? « Hilary Burrage

  5. Pingback: Campaigning will shift the climate, to end FGM in Britain | Strictly Politically

  6. Pingback: FGM is a universal horror, including in Britain | Strictly Politically

  7. Pingback: Women under threat world-wide (still); demand action now. | Strictly Politically

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