FGM is a universal horror, including in Britain

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a truly dreadful topic, and we all wish there was no reason, ever, to consider it.  But there is. Whilst we in the UK see endless (and correct) concern for upholding the human rights of alleged dangerous extremists such as Abu Qatada,  we also permit without murmur hideous violence to female British minors, and sending thousands of small girls abroad every year expressly so they can be mercilessly mutilated, sometimes killed or murdered, in the name of cultural difference.

Today’s (22 April 2012) report and first leader in the Sunday Times reminds us how widespread and unspeakable – almost literally – FGM actually is, even in Britain.  Under their front page headline [paywall] “Revealed: Britain’s 100,000 mutilated women” the Sunday Times reports that a few very brave victims of this barbarism, such as the model Waris Dirie (founder of the Desert Flower Foundation), continue to speak out in the UK to demand immediate action to halt this atrocity.  But nobody does anything.

It’s estimated that in Britain about 20,000 girls are at risk of this nightmare very year.  That’s more than 50 desperately vulnerable children on any given day, and 20,000 neglected UK prosecutions annually for a very serious and especially horrific criminal offence.

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.

How many times, as has also been asked repeatedly on this blog, must the demand be made, before determined, immediately effective action to halt FGM actually happens?  How many more children must be so grievously harmed, before we begin to care?

This is a truly hideous crime, inflicting unimaginable pain and peril knowingly on the bodies of defenceless young girls; but still nothing is done to protect them.  It’s said there is a reluctance to interfere with different cultural ‘customs’ which prevents action; on the contrary however Waris Dirie believes it’s racism which explains the grim legal lethargy.

As Dirie observes, FGM victims are almost never white.  The suffering of black girls is she maintains of less interest and import in the UK than that of white ones.

I’d suggest too, however, that there is a cowardly squeamishness on the part of our stiff-upper-lip legislative and law enforcement establishment.  This stone-faced male power elite doesn’t care to know about, or want to address, anything to do with vulnerable women and girls – even when they are subject to massive physical cruelty. (Think how the current administration has also chosen to imperil women’s refuges – a probably not unconnected issue.)  This neglection of responsibility is also profoundly misogynist.

Not ‘just’ in Britain
The Sunday Times is absolutely right once again to turn a spotlight this nightmare.  I, like everyone else, am horrified that I am a citizen of a country which continues even now to turn a blind eye to FGM.

But in one respect there is less reason to accept the position of the Sunday Times, in its first leader today.  The leader writer declares, as we all would, that there is no place for FGM (or other cruel practices) in contemporary Britain:

When people from mainly African countries come to Britain they should leave behind these practices which, like witchcraft, forced marriages and honour killings, have no place here.

Globally unacceptable
Let me challenge this specific.  There is, as many have similarly declared, no place ever for such practices, whether in Britain or anywhere else in the world. Not just ‘here’.

Yet currently around three million girls world-wide are forced to endure permanent, enduringly painful, sometimes lethal mutilation every year – about 8,000 every day.  And annually an estimated 20,000 of these girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM here in England and Wales, with the practice actually thought to be on the increase [A Statistical Study to Estimate the Prevalence of FGM in England and Wales].

The ultimate authority for definitive action to stop FGM everywhere lies in no less a document than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948).

Rights and freedoms
Amongst the Declaration’s foremost ‘rights and freedoms’ are these:

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are  endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a  spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading   treatment or punishment.

Article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Pretty clear, isn’t it?

Responsibility as world citizens
So what are you doing to stop FGM, in the UK or anywhere else, right now – whether as a health or educational practitioner, as a legislator or as a law enforcer?  Or even just as a good citizen?

How can we accept a reported situation such as this [my emphasis]?:

The Kurdistan Regional Government, …. in passing a law against FGM, [has taken] a step forward for both the political authorities and the international movement demanding its abolition, which deserves the support of Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The Kurdish law contrasts with inconsistent measures in Western Europe, where much public comment on FGM has been recorded, but where policies are inconsistent. The British government led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has done away with its anti-FGM coordinator’s office  .

David Cameron, Lynne Featherstone, David Lammy, Bernard Hogan-Howe, Shami Chakrabarti and others who have influence… when it comes to real, visible action to fight for the human rights of small defenceless female people as well as large aggressively spoken male ones, where on earth are you?

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.

This entry was posted in Viewpoint and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to FGM is a universal horror, including in Britain

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

  2. Saadoon says:

    We are all human first, religion is much after that. Female ginetal mutilationis butchery and it has to STOP, no matter what. If child rape is a crime then female circumcision is equally a crime. How can mothers force their 7 year old daughter to such torture when the child looks up to her with so much trust . IT IS A SHAME ON MOTHERHOOD.. Its a shame for all of us as Indians to tolerate such nasty proceedure in India and if nothing is being done about this,every day many more girls go through this pain.

  3. Alok says:

    I’m currently doing an amsngnseit on the role of social workers and international human rights bodies in combatting FGM. I was looking for the statistics pertaining to the specific types (i.e. TYPE I, II, III, and IV) and wondered if anyone knows where I can find them?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.