is a consultant sociologist and journalist, also advising the Guardian newspaper on FGM. This is Hilary's professional website, to share thoughts on sociological analysis, social policy and good practice. Hilary has just written a book, Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Ashgate, 2015), and is currently completing another one, Female Mutilation (New Holland, 2016), on the experience of survivors and others around the globe who are involved in the fight against FGM.
Earlier in her career Hilary was a university Research Associate and a college Senior Lecturer. Community engaged, and with grounded board-level and national experience of regeneration, science, health, environmental issues, politics and culture, Hilary has worked and collaborated in many contexts, from Liverpool via London to Prague and New York. A former AFS (American Field Service) Scholar, Hilary is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
My book, Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective, will be published by Ashgate in just a few weeks now. I am unequivocally committed to eradication, but have also have tried to develop a sociological analysis of the issues; and whilst I have drawn quite often on the UK experience I hope the analysis will serve well as a starting point also for many other places in the western world. Details from the publisher of the book’s contents, its first review and how (if you’d like to) you can order it follow here:
And so we find ourselves confronted by yet another Anthropologist ‘explaining’ why women ‘choose’ to have themselves ‘cut’. Again, it’s Prof Bettina Shell-Duncan of the University of Washington, reporting to The Atlantic on ‘Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised‘. She asks us to consider ‘common misconceptions about female genital cutting, including the idea that men force women to undergo the procedure’. When will this comforting denial of the truth finally become a matter of shame for those who promote it? FGM is vile, patriarchal child abuse.
The Guardian launched its Global Media Campaign to end FGM at the UN ONE Plaza Hotel on 12 March 2015. The idea is to support the new generation of activists using the media to amplify their message – stop FGM! – to their communities and the world. Here you see two of these determined activists, Domtila Chesang from Kenya and Jaha Dukureh, originally from the Gambia. Their presentations, with those of UN Women Under-Secretary General Mme Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and others, are available here.
The symposium Contestations around FGM: Activism and the Academy, held on 7 March 2015 and organised by Dr Tobe Levin, was a first, in formally bringing together activists and academics to discuss many aspects of continuing efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. My task was to contribute to a round table discussion on ‘the benefits, the hurdles and the effects on prevention of committed implementation of the law’. In my paper I examined the risk that an inadvertent turf war around FGM might now be emerging in the UK between the medics and the lawyers.
Can you help? My second book about female genital mutilation is very different from my first (a formal textbook). It focuses on the ‘human stories’ behind this harmful traditional practice. I aim to bring to a wider readership the realities of FGM, talking to people in communities, survivors, ‘rescuers’, opponents, campaigners (in the field or diaspora), anyone with direct FGM experience, women, men, older, younger. Please contact me for details. Anonymous, or I’ll try to feature your organisation, if you wish. Thank you!
The UK Home Office has been conducting a Consultation on whether and how to introduce a mandatory reporting requirement for female genital mutilation FGM), as proposed in the Home Affairs (Vaz) Report in 2014. I agree absolutely that reporting of FGM should be mandatory for professionals directly involved, but I’d like to see a single, much more integrated and comprehensive approach – eg including all suspected child abuse, plus adult FGM (and forced marriage?) with a national network of trained Abuse Reporting Officers. This is my submission:
It’s been a busy year for activists seeking to stop female genital mutilation in Britain. We’ve seen media campaigns, debates in Parliament, more research on incidence and a full Home Affairs Committee investigation, chaired by Keith Vaz, which resulted in a report, Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan. This is a version of the piece I wrote for Huffington Post, as a review of political progress towards ending FGM in Britain in 2014.