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The Guardian Newspaper Readers’ Campaign To Eradicate FGM *Globally*

December 21, 2013

11.04.17 red centre  004aIn January 2014 the Guardian Newspaper is to launch a campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM). This will include not just reports about what is happening right now, but also asking how FGM can be stopped across the globe within a generation, and what we can all do to make this happen. In preparation for this campaign, the Guardian is inviting people in Britain and around the world to advise on how to abolish the practice forever.

We need your views!   (Please contribute via the Comments box, below.)

We want to know what you think the Guardian should be asking their print and on-line readership to do, in support of the campaign to eradicate FGM.

Our aim is to confer with as many experts and concerned citizens as possible, to arrive at five recommendations each for UK domestic, and for global, action by Guardian readers.

** To share your thoughts on actions globally, please COMMENT BELOW  (end of / below full post). **.

~~~

Ideas and Comments on global action so far are summarised HERE.

To suggest domestic (UK) actions please post your comments HERE.

Watch this space. We shall take the debate wherever it needs to go…..

Background

It is thought there are about 130 million girls and women globally who have experienced female genital mutilation, and that perhaps 30 million girls and young women around the world are still subjected to FGM every year.  UNICEF reports (Feb. 2013) that more than 90 per cent of women aged 15–49 years have been cut in Egypt (91%), Djibouti (93%), Guinea (96%) and Somalia (98%).

There has been some reduction in numbers in some countries, but progress has generally been very slow, and in some places the incidence of FGM may even have increased.

> Do you have advice or ideas about how this appalling harm, often inflicted on young girls and babies, can be stopped across the globe?

> Do you have experience of FGM, personally or as a member of a community in which it occurs, either in the UK or elsewhere?

> Are you a practitioner who encounters the challenges of FGM in the course of your work?   Maybe a teacher, clinician, development worker, police / legal officer, social worker or youth leader, whether in the UK or somewhere else?

> Do you think governments and other organisations are doing enough to abolish FGM world wide?

> Have you found it difficult, maybe even dangerous, to confront or deal with FGM as you would wish?  Or are you simply a concerned citizen who wants to see FGM eradicated?

Action
Maybe you have ideas for action such as:

  • A letter writing campaign, to ask for firm action by specific government departments (the Guardian can provide contact details) in countries where FGM continues and appears to be tolerated.
  • Encourage research to illuminate the economic cost/s of FGM, to those who are harmed, to their families and communities, and to their nations.
  • A ‘name and shame’ or rankings campaign by bloggers and/or the Guardian to highlight places (sometimes regions rather than whole nations) where FGM and other harmful traditional practices still most frequently occur, perhaps with an emphasis on universal human rights.
  • Domestic pressure on the UK Foreign Office, DiFD etc, to bring forward a broad range of strategies to eradicate FGM. (What do the relevant NGOs recommend? Should, and could, their proposals be the basis of UK Government strategy abroad?  What are the roles of the United Nations, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation? What about the estimated half-a-million women and girls with FGM in Europe?)
  • Insistence that, as UNICEF and WHO ask, FGM is referred to by politicians and commentators everywhere as ‘mutilation’ – at least in all formal and wider public discourse.

Would these suggestions be useful? Or do you have other ideas? Whatever, we’d love to hear from you.

Please follow us on @FGMQuestions and #FGMQns, and tell others too that their views will be appreciated.

** To share your thoughts on global actions please  COMMENT BELOW.**

[To suggest domestic (UK) actions please post your comments HERE.]

For regular, completely free no-obligation UK and global updates on FGM, please see
#NoFGM Daily News.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2013 04:05

    Hi Hilary, I wanted to comment, high on the fact that a nice contribution just came in to the not-yet-officially-launched clitoral restoration fund… which I want to propose as a good way to combat FGM. Nearly all the women who wish to profit from the operation will become campaigners against FGM … Very warmly, Tobe

  2. Kate permalink
    December 25, 2013 09:10

    I would be keen to share good practice of what has worked with FGM affected communities in countries across the world. It would be good to know what has happened in places like Somaliland/ North Somalia and the Sudan where the prevalence has dropped and how we might learn from this in the UK. I hope our colleagues in these countries will be encouraged to share their experience.

    • January 13, 2014 23:33

      I will be launching a very extensive campaign later this year in Somaliland. I will keep everyone informed

  3. Michael L.S. permalink
    December 30, 2013 15:45

    There is nothing to discuss here. If kids had their pinky toes amputated for no reason other than “culture,” “tradition,” or religion, there would be an uproar: Most everyone – including the yellow-bellied cultural relativists – would, rightfully, condemn it as gross child abuse, worthy of at least a hefty term in the big house.

    This heinous practice must be extirpated by any means necessary, with the utmost of urgency.

    Following that, the next step must be the male genital mutilation, a.k.a. circumcision, and then ritual animal slaughter.

  4. December 30, 2013 23:33

    Pastoralist Child Foundation is working in Samburu and Maasai Mara, Kenya to eradicate FGM through community mobilization and sensitization, as well as educational sponsorships for girls. Our site is http://www.pastoralist-child-foundation.org. We also have an Indiegogo fundraiser with more info. http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/girls-education-community-education-in-samburu-and-maasai-mara-kenya. We are VERY DEDICATED to eradicating FGM forever!!

  5. December 31, 2013 03:48

    Here’s another idea that will make positive waves. Following the example set by the German GIZ (corresponds to DFiD), government should fund UNIVERSITY -Level interdisciplinary FGM STUDIES as they are now being integrated into the medical faculty at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Key contacts here are the Global Alliance against FGM and Professor Charles-Henry Rochat. Dr. Pierre Foldes is also on record supporting a similar initiative in France. More Information is contained in my Afterword to Hubert Prolongeau’s _Undoing FGM. Pierre Foldes, the Surgeon Who Restores the Clitoris_ (UnCUT/VOICES Press, 2011).

    More info here: Announcing the Clitoris Restoration Fund: “Reversing the effects of a crime” (Foldes)
    With each book, UnCUT/VOICES Press pledges to support action in the ‘real’ world aimed at stopping FGM. For those whose clitoris has fallen to the blade and who wish to recover their bodily integrity, we are launching a tax-exempt fund. Dr. Pierre Foldes has assured me, he continues to offer his pioneering expertise as surgeon free of charge, but pre- and post-operative care in approved clinics, plus transportation, can be expensive. You can make a tax exempt contribution. UnCUT/VOICES is teaming up with Healthy Tomorrow/Sini Sanuman in the United States and with the German association Terre des Femmes.

    Foldes portrayed in the French paper Libération

    For each contribution of $100 or 75 Euros, you will receive a free copy of Hubert Prolongeau’s Undoing FGM. Pierre Foldes, the Surgeon Who Restores the Clitoris.

    Why help women who wish to have their clitoris restored? As Hubert Prolongeau has shown in interviews for Undoing FGM, those with the courage to face the trauma once again are seeking not only physical but also spiritual wholeness. Without naiveté, they understand that a residue of mental scars remains even after the initial horror recedes. But willing to brave the scalpel for the sake of return to an integrity which they themselves define, they wish to enter the fight against FGM with renewed confidence, as women whose birth anatomy and sexuality have been bequeathed a second start. As a man, Dr. Foldes has declared his dedication to “reversing the effects of a crime” perpetrated, in his view, by patriarchy, which means by other men. Women, of course, have acted in complicity. The decision to have the clitoris restored means defiance of both betrayals and promises to give the anti-FGM campaign its most dedicated activists.

    In the United States, send CHECKS in dollars drawn on US Banks with the notation “Clitoral restoration fund” to Susan McLucas, Healthy Tomorrow/Sini Sanuman, 14 William St. Somerville, MA 02144. See https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-TomorrowSini-Sanuman/

    For tax exemption in Germany, please use bank transfer in Euros. Important! Write VERWENDUNGSZWECK “Spende OP Hilfe FGM”

    Bank Transfer Details: Terre des Femmes, Ethik Bank, KTO 3116000, BLZ 83094495, BIC: GENODEF1ETK, IBAN: DE88 830ß 4495 0003 1160 00

    For further information email Dr. Tobe Levin: tlevin @ fas . harvard . edu or tobe . levin @ uncutvoices . com

  6. Tony Kiambi Mwebia permalink
    January 1, 2014 15:42

    I am a community worker in kuria kenya where cases of FGM are quite rampant. From my experience I am of the idea that use of community dialogues and sensitization aimed at changing community perception and attitude is the best approach of dealing with FGM.Community empowerment and girl child education should go hand in hand with this.

    Well why change of attitude and perception? From experience after several parents were prosecuted in Kuria for exposing their children to FGM the community members are now conducting it secretly hence making it very difficult for the law enforcers and other relevant authorities to detect.
    Thank you

    • January 12, 2014 22:47

      Hi Tony, The approach that you recommend is exactly what we do in Samburu and Maasai Mara, taking it a step further by providing educational scholarships for girls. Maybe we can collaborate someday. Keep up the good work! Peace and blessings.

    • Tony Kiambi Mwebia permalink
      January 13, 2014 07:36

      Hi Sayydah, thank you and keep up the good work to. I am always available when it comes to matters FGM and more than willing to collaborate. You can get me on twitter @TonyMwebia. Peace

  7. Karen Lambie permalink
    January 2, 2014 23:35

    Hello, everyone. I am not a victim of FGM nor am I any kind of an expert on the subject, but I have read much about it and want to do whatever I can do to help stop it. I live in the United States. Based on what I have read, it seems that one of the best ways to handle this problem is through education. Both women and men need to be aware of the horrific health risks–emotional, psychological and physical. It also seems that there is a need for alternative rites of passage for these girls. In some areas, it is also very much tied into economics–the “cutters” get paid and the girls can be married off after undergoing FGM. I suppose all of this goes back to education. If women had other means of making money perhaps it would be easier to eradicate this practice. Poverty must be tackled. I am trying to spread the word in my little corner of the world and let people know what they can do to help stop it such as donating to various organizations that are working to eradicate FGM. I am speaking to the Board of Directors of a nearby hospital about FGM in general and the fact that there are girls in the United States who are at risk. If anyone has any advice as to what an American can do, please let me know. Thank you.

    • January 3, 2014 22:43

      Hi Karen,

      See my contact info. above. I would like to connect with you.

    • January 13, 2014 23:41

      In the USA we have both Federal and State laws making FGM a crime. Now let’s get teachers and pediatricans to help.

  8. January 3, 2014 01:46

    Hilary as you know this is a very complicated issue. However, Footprints Foundation will launch a major campaign in the USA May 17, 2014, at the Ritz Carlton hotel Coconut Grove Florida.
    We will ask women to wear our “I am” necklace to create awareness to this issue.
    In October we will then launch this same campaign at the Edna Adam University, Somaliland. Part of our campaign is partner with men in both countries.

  9. Funmi Fiberesima permalink
    January 5, 2014 00:06

    Hi Hilary,
    I just shot a film highlighting the consequences of FGM. It is a love story inter laced with the message of FGM, it is my desire to broach this subject in a non confrontational way, so as to have everyone embracing the film, without compromising on the thought provoking aim of the film. It was shot in Yoruba language because according to my research, in my country Nigeria, the practice is still entrenched in the Yoruba culture. I am working towards releasing the movie in a couple of weeks and hoping I would be able to reach out to my people and inspire them to begin to take a stand against this act of cruelty against women and girls.
    I can be reached via my email and the release hopefully would be covered by the Nigeria Media. I appreciate the effort going into the eradication of FGM practise, I hope I would be able to say with this film that I took a stand too.

  10. January 6, 2014 12:03

    Cut aids to Govts that do nothing to stop FGM. Name and Shame them.

  11. January 10, 2014 09:27

    To eradicate this old tradition – which of course is a human right violation – you need to bring more information to those who are still practicing FGM.

    Beryl Magoko – a victim herself – made the film ‘The Cut’ in Kuria /Kenya. The film helps to understand why this old tradition is so deeply rooted and it helps to understand the consequences.
    Currently we are trying to raise funds to translate ‘The Cut’ (http://thecutdocumentary.wordpress.com/ ) – it was shown at 18 international film festivals and won seven awards so far – into Kiswahili.

    The idea is to travel with the Kiswahili version of ‘The Cut’ and a mobile cinema together with local experts through regions where FGM is still practiced and bring information and understanding to those who are keeping up this tradition. Any support and help is highly appreciated.
    Contact: film.thecut (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Marc permalink
    January 12, 2014 14:19

    If one women is saved by your blog then it is a success, hopefully there will be no victims of FGM.

    • January 12, 2014 15:59

      Thank you Marc. Of course we all want every single woman and child to be spared, but each of them, as you remind us, is a separate human being. Your encouragement is very much appreciated. We shall persevere.

  13. January 13, 2014 22:29

    The International Association of Women Police, IAWP, believe increased numbers of women officers with the right level of training in dealing with FGM and Violence against women is vital. Many women officers working in countries where FGM is prevalent are not provided with the resources they need, or the support from their organisations it makes their task of helping women in the community harder. In countries where FGM is not understood, again education is vital so that the signs are recognised when officers come into contact with families for whatever reason. We must not let FGM be dismissed as a ‘cultural’ issue, it is a crime! As we have seen globally with domestic violence it is often the women in policing who champion ‘gender’ crime. Eliminating FGM cannot rely on law enforcement alone, all professionals have a part play, Health and Education agencies have a vital role to play

  14. February 6, 2014 10:13

    6 Feb: International Zero Tolerance of FGM Day
    Here’s some of the news and calls to action which The Guardian has published today:

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/06/female-genital-mutilation-foreign-crime-common-uk .

    Other first stories etc here:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-schools-to-teach-risks-of-female-genital-mutilation-before-the-summer-endfgm#share (e-petition re PSHE etc which you may like to sign and share)

    and here:

    http://www.theguardian.com/end-fgm

    Much more to follow, over the coming weeks…

    The hashtag for the campaign is #endFGM.

  15. April 5, 2014 22:33

    We deserve compensation and restitution!!! NOW!!!

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