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 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 and coach. 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 now a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Rashida Manjoo, Professor of Public Law of the University of Cape Town, and Special Rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Council on Violence against women, its causes and consequences, was in London today to deliver her initial report on findings about (young) women and violence in the United Kingdom. I was invited to submit a short summary briefing on female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women and girls for Prof Manjoo’s consideration during her visit. This is what I said:
Let’s Drop The Clichés: Mandatory Reporting And Simple Protocols Are Essential To Prevent FGM And Other Child Abuse
There are points in any campaign where the emphasis shifts; and that’s where we are now with female genital mutilation (FGM), at least in the UK. In this article, also published in the Huffington Post, I suggest we now need to move to the practicalities of implementing safeguarding and the law; the case against FGM is now firmly made, so clear information for affected communities, along with wider education, straightforward mandatory reporting systems and active enforcement, are the next steps towards making FGM history.
International Women’s Day is a good time to report the paper my fellow sociologists in Tehran, Iranian academics Meysam Haddadi Barzoki and Mohhamad Tavakoll, and I have just published (March 2014). Meysam and I liaised on this work via the e-ether for quite a while; through our exchanges I learnt about a society very different from mine. (Iranian women’s fathers become only ‘stepfather’ when their daughters marry.) I hope our paper shines light on some important issues for others too. The abstract and full link follow:
My Submission To The UK Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry On Female Genital Mutilation
The UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the existing legislative framework on female genital mutilation, and the barriers to achieving a successful prosecution. The Chair, Keith Vaz MP, has invited commentary on any aspect of this issue, such as the respective roles of the police, health, education and social care professionals, and the third sector, and ways in which effective action to stop FGM could be achieved. What follows is my personal submission to the Committee.
There’s very properly a growing moral outcry about FGM as an abuse of fundamental human rights. But that alone won’t eradicate it. It’s ultimately money which motivates most crime, including FGM. Those who promote it may be unaware of the economics of FGM around the world, but, as I argued today in an article (reproduced below) for The Morning Star, campaigners must not ignore this crucial factor. FGM globally is big business, and it surely has big impacts on economies as well as on the bodies and rights of women and girls.
Female genital mutilation is now a reality in Western Europe, Australasia and the Americas. But does it also happen in Eastern Europe? Here’s some of a piece I wrote to mark Zero Tolerance to FGM Day for the Prague-based Opinions Post. I fear a few in-coming diasporas to Eastern Europe have brought FGM and other harmful traditional practices with them; and I know we Europeans, all of us, still tolerate other forms of violence against women and girls, whether indigenous, or from places as varied as Somalia and Romania.