is a freelance sociologist with substantial experience in regeneration, education, knowledge ecology and economy, sustainability, health, social policy, equality and diversity. This is her professional website and blog, where she shares her areas of expertise and thoughts about the realities of professional practice. Previously a college Senior Lecturer, Hilary now owns a business as a consultant, researcher, writer, speaker and website designer/coach. Always community engaged, but also 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. She is currently authoring a book on the eradication of female genital mutilation in Britain. A former AFS (American Field Service) Scholar, Hilary is now a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Female genital mutilation is an abhorrence, yet little to stop it has been done even in countries like Britain. With the summer ‘cutting season’ upon us, there is an urgent need to move beyond moralising, to finding real, practical ways to eradicate FGM. One approach would be to have a single-number national phone-line, co-ordinated to cover all aspects of FGM and similar abuse, as the first point of call for everyone whether concerned professionals or neighbours, family friends and neighbours, and even (older) children themselves.
This post is in response to the announcement on International Women’s Day 2013 by Prime Minister David Cameron that the UK will donate £35 million towards the United Nation’s work (research and delivery) on eliminating female genital mutilation.
Political and policy aspects of this commitment are examined, along with some suggestions about how the issue can be brought into focus in Britain, where top-level formal responses to FGM until now have been very slow.
To some it may seem heartless, but surely it’s obvious: If we really, seriously want to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) we have to move beyond the moralising – essential as it is – and follow the money. And we must understand the market. Yes, female genital mutilation is irreducibly a moral and cultural issue. But, absolutely correctly, no modern western state can leverage, or justify, much in the way of legally imposed moral and cultural determinism.
Culture change on its own is difficult. It’s money which talks.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cruel legacy of patriarchal societies and traditions stretching back over millennia. Yet still it occurs, even in Britain and the developed world: in the UK over 20,000 girls are thought to be at high risk or victims annually.
To mark today, 6 February – the tenth annual International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day – I have created a Stop FGM Page for this website. I also attach below (draft) model resolution-proposals which you may like to consider and/or adapt to take forward in your own organisations.
Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman shares her impressions of ‘traditional feminism’: we should concentrate on the big stuff like ‘pay inequality, female circumcision in the Third World, and domestic abuse’ – all, she affirms, ‘pressing and disgusting and wrong’, but she insists that the day-to-day problems of woman kind are just as deleterious to peace of mind. By such a yardstick the growing awareness that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a gross reality in Britain, in 2013, is a tragic and shocking double whammy.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a horrific act, agreed by all the major global humanitarian and legal organisations, and by many nations, to be a gross violation of human rights. But still it continues, perpetrated often on small girls and young women under barbaric conditions. What follows is an attempt to describe and ‘explain’ this act. Possible consequences for those who have it are also listed.
NB: The ** material below is very distressing to read**, but knowledge of FGM is essential to eradicating the practice.