Thursday, 6 February 2014

A note on International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation

Today is International day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilation. This horrendous crime mutilates and disfigures young girls and women, both physically and mentally and causes countless further health issues for them (READ MORE HERE)

A charity supporting victims of FGM or FGC - female genital castration, The Orchid Project state ‘The UN estimates that worldwide 125 million women  and girls are currently living with the consequences of FGC. A further 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the next decade across 29 known practising countries in Africa and the Middle East. However, this figure under-estimates the real number of girls affected, because other countries (e.g. Indonesia) are not included’

The front page of the Times this morning highlights that, despite the fact that FGM was outlawed in the UK 28 years ago, it is only now that the first ever successful prosecution for this crime is due to go ahead in the next few weeks. The main issue causing the lack of convictions for this terrible crime is the inabilities of those who are likely to have the most contact with victims such as doctors, social workers and teachers who are currently failing to report possible victims to the authorities. 

In the UK there are more that 65,000 girls aged under 13 at risk of FGM. However, in 2012 there were only 24 reports of instances of FGM made to West Midlands Police and in 2013 just 69 reports to Scotland Yard. 

On a more positive note The Times confirms that the CPS has now established a network of specialist prosecutors appointed in each region to lead on FGM in the hope this will increase convictions in England and Wales. However, it still has a long way to go. The Inspectorate of Constabulary (who are they? CLICK HERE) are preparing to conduct a national inspection of ‘honour crimes’, the category into which FGM falls, and an area that has notoriously few crime records or convictions. 

As well as the NSPCC has set up a 24 hour FGM helpline which has received 153 calls since it was established last August. 

I would like to take a moment to highlight the bravery of Maimuna Juwo, a ‘cutter’ who fled The Gambia leaving her 5 children, to escape having to mutilate any more women, having already been forced to cut her own daughter. Maimuna and is currently awaiting the outcome of her application for asylum in the UK. Her absence from her village means that no women can be ‘cut’ as superstition states that as the designated ‘cutter’ is away, it is bad luck for someone else to take over. As a result of her bravery there is a small group of women and their daughters who will not have to endure this hideous and pointless ritual. 

What can you do? Sign the Guardian's petition to Michael Gove to improve education about FGM in schools by clicking this link Guardian article and petition to Michael Gove. 

NSPCC FGM helpline number and further information (Click here)

Live web chat with MP Norman Baker, Home Office Minister on FGM, due to take place shortly on Mumsnet (CLICK HERE)

Excellent blog post by FGM campaigner and QC Dexter Dias - HERE

'The unpunished crime' Julie Bindel's report into FGM in the UK - HERE

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