is a consultant sociologist. She is currently writing a book, Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: a UK perspective. This is her professional website and blog, to share thoughts on social analysis and professional practice. Previously a college Senior Lecturer, Hilary now owns a business as a consultant, researcher, writer and speaker. Community engaged, and with grounded board-level and national experience of regeneration, science, health, environmental issues, politics and culture, Hilary has worked in many contexts, from Liverpool via London to Prague. A former AFS (American Field Service) Scholar, Hilary is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
The Girl Summit in London on 22 July ’14 was an extraordinary event, bringing together various EndFGM campaigners and top influencers from around the world. The evident positives have however been balanced by caveats from, e.g., Naana Otoo-Oyortey * of FORWARDUK and the participatory development expert Clementine Burnley **. For me too there are issues, not least around where this leaves the EndFGM campaign in the UK.
The Morning Star has today (30 July 2014) published an op-ed which it requested from me about the alleged threat to impose female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls and young women in ISIS-controlled northern Iraq. It is always difficult to write about topics which horrify and anger in equal measure – sadly, there are far too many such global examples right now – but I managed to find some words to articulate what many of us may be feeling about the rumoured mass enforcement of FGM, and to suggest a few positive ways forward.
Simply Child Safe, a new publication edited by Denise Fergus (mother of murdered toddler James Bulger), addresses current UK child safeguarding issues. As a fellow Liverpudlian I was pleased to be asked to write about child protection and female genital mutilation (FGM) for Issue No 2 of this magazine. My message, at last it seems being heard, remains that mandatory reporting, training for all professionals in regulated activities, and proper channels for concerns, are all critical. Here’s what I wrote:
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has (3 July 2014) published its report on Female Genital Mutilation: the case for a national action plan. I made a submission to their Inquiry, my views shared largely also by others. The Committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, reflects much of what many of us proposed – compulsory PSHE, proper training for concerned practitioners, more support for community activists – but fails to grasp the nettle on finance, mandatory reporting, or the economic costs of FGM.
Making FGM History is a free, open event on 22 September ’14*, during the Labour Party Annual Conference in Manchester, to develop genuine dialogue between senior policy influencers and those who fight FGM ‘on the ground’. Keynote speakers/listeners include Sir Keir Starmer QC, Luciana Berger MP, Cllr. Richard Watts (Islington), Cllr. Sue Murphy (Manchester), Cllr Ellie Robinson (Newham), French attorney Linda Weil-Curiel, Dexter Dias QC and GP Dr Phoebe Abe. [*9.15-11.30am, Mechanics Institute]
There is little for Britain to be proud of about UK responses to female genital mutilation as grounds for asylum. The Home Office clearly sees itself as above scrutiny. In April 2014 I wrote this for the Guardian: How can Britain deport a child at risk of FGM? Theresa May must think again, reporting Afusat Saliu’s terror that her little girls will be mutilated if deported to Nigeria. Subsequent events (e.g. 200+ girls kidnapped by Boko Harem in Nigeria) and UK parliamentary enquiries (below) give even greater cause for concern.