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International ‘Zero Tolerance FGM’ Day: Taking The Issues Forward

February 6, 2013

FGM flowerFemale Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cruel legacy of patriarchal societies and traditions stretching back millennia. Yet still it occurs, even in Britain and the developed world: in the UK over 20,000 girls are at high risk or victims annually. So to mark today, 6 February – the tenth annual International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day – I have created a NoFGM 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.

Information on what FGM entails and what its consequences can be found here.  It is a complex and life-threatening custom which will require multiple approaches at many levels before it can be finally eradicated.

Zero Tolerance of FGM
Today, 6 February 2013, is International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day, the tenth such annual occasion, promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and (especially important, following their unanimous agreement on 21 December 2012 to achieve a global ban on FGM) the United Nations.

As various major activists insist, we can all play a part, however small, in helping the process towards the realisation of  No FGM.

In this spirit I have created a permanent Page on this website, with general details of how you can support, or become more involved in, the movement to halt the enduring blight of FGM on girls and women directly, and on their communities.

Also below in this post is a proposal-resolution [1] which you may like to support in situ.

You may also like to adapt for use in your own spheres of influence – political, community or organisational – the draft motion attached at the end of this post [2].

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[1] Resolution-proposal to Stop FGM in Britain

Full text of NoFGM motion for circulation, if you would like to, to interested parties.  It would be very helpful if people could please add supportive comment and ‘vote’ for this.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – sometimes called ‘Cutting’*

– posted on the Labour Party proposed policies website on FGM Zero Tolerance Day (6 Feb. 2013)

We urge the Labour Party as a matter of urgency

 [1] to secure the safety of babies, girls and women at risk of FGM in the UK;

[2] to secure immediate attention to the needs of those girls and women in the UK who have already been subject to FGM;

[3] to ensure that all legal provisions are applied in full to those who have already practised or procured this cruel act of abuse.

Explanatory text (to follow above proposal):

Female genital mutilation is a vile act of abuse perpetrated on young girls, and sometimes women. It arises in a number of forms but is always dangerous to health and future well-being, and is sometimes lethal.

This traditional practice is fundamentally based on patriarchy and the subjugation of females.  Amongst its harmful effects are these.

The World Health Organisation has condemned FGM for many years, and it has now been unanimously rejected also by a Memorandum of the United Nations; yet still in Britain it is thought that well over 20,000 girls and young women are at risk every year, and that over 80,00 women living in the UK have FGM. (ref: FORWARD report)

FGM has been illegal in the UK for decades, and the last legal loophole (taking children abroad for a ‘holiday’ to be subjected to FGM) was closed in 2003. Extraordinarily, however, not one single person in the UK from the literally hundreds of thousands who may be culpable has ever been brought to justice.

In the meantime, the Coalition Government abolished the post of (No)FGM Coordinator which Labour had created only a year or so before. Since then some progress has been made in respect of the Crown Prosecution Service, but NoFGM strategies remain woeful – simply ‘advice’ on Government websites in most instances.

Perhaps 50 girls and babies are at risk of, or experience, FGM every single day in Britain. This appalling child abuse statistic is a blight on British civic society, and a blight also on the lives forever-after of the children who undergo FGM.

We need to ascertain very clearly and soon the real extent of FGM in the UK, as a baseline for action.

There are a number of MPs and lobbyists who are already seeking to STOP #FGM as a matter of great urgency; but far too many of us still prefer to ignore this shameful aspect of British life.

FGM was raised (by HB) at the Labour Party Women’s Conference in September 2012, and has also subsequently been raised and followed through by, e.g. Islington South and Finsbury, and Liverpool Riverside, CLPs. [Now also Hackney CLP]

It is essential that the Labour party now acknowledges the huge damage which FGM inflicts every year on thousands of children in the UK, and that no further prevarication on action is permitted.

Some possible approaches are proposed here, but through-going consideration of national strategy, bringing together meaningfully and cohesively all involved parties, is a priority – as is determined leadership nationally. The Labour Party must tolerate this abuse of children in Britain no longer.

Hilary Burrage (Liverpool Riverside CLP) & Anna Burrage (Islington South & Finsbury CLP)

Example CLP Resolution (Islington South & Finsbury) – attached document (below)

·         Download documentFemale Genital Mutilation (attached to text above)

* Explanatory text on Your Britain website , in Your Britain: Education and Children Policy Commission [- a Labour Party website ]     NB: If you click on the second link immediately above you only get the italicised intro paragraph; if you click on the first link, you see simply the explanatory text which follows it; so no full info on either link….

PLEASE vote to support this proposal here. (You may have to search for FGM once you are on the appropriate page; no need to be a member of the Labour Party to do this.)

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[2] DRAFT ‘Stop FGM’ MOTION (to be adapted as appropriate):

Stop Female Genital Mutilation

In the UK today it is estimated that at least 66,000 women have been the victims of Female Genital Mutilation, and a further 24,000 or more girls and young women are thought to be at risk of this abuse annually, with the number probably set to increase. Perpetration or procurement of FGM is a serious crime of abuse in this country; it is also a crime to remove a girl from the UK with the intent to harm her abroad. However, to date, no successful criminal prosecutions take taken place and no one has been convicted of this crime. Yet the numbers of victims are rising.

In our community, [ area ], we are home to [ some / many / unknown numbers of ] ‘at risk’ groups of girls and women.

As a matter of urgency, we ask that the  [ area ] Council take action as appropriate to:

  • Ascertain the numbers of women, girls and babies at risk of, or having already undergone, FGM in [ area ], in order to scope and enable the level of local action required to address the issues
  • Mount an education and awareness programme within [ area ] schools and health and social services
  • Develop and effectively disseminate clear guidance for clinical, educational and other relevant service-provision personnel on how to protect the groups at risk
  • Determine a clear reporting system for alerting the authorities to provide maximum protection for potential victims and, where damage has already been inflicted, bring the perpetrators to justice and as far as possible mitigate the harm done to the child victims
  • Provide funding to women-led, [ area ]-based organisations that work in this area.

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FURTHER INFORMATION AND ACTION

Readers are invited to support these two FGM e-petitions:

UK Government: Enforce the UK law which forbids FGM (Female Genital so-called ‘Cutting’)    .. and

FGM abolitionists internationally: Support the Feminist Statement on Female Genital Mutilation

[See also HM Government e-petition, No. 35313, to STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain  (for UK citizens and residents – now closed).]

There is a free FGM hotline for anyone in the UK: 0800 028 3550, or email: fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

The #NoFGM Daily News carries reports of all items shared on Twitter that day about FGM – brings many organisations and developments into focus.

For more on FGM please see here.

Twitter accounts: @NoFGM1  @NoFGMBookUK  @FGMStatement  [tag for all: #NoFGM]

Facebook page: #NoFGM – a crime against humanity

More info on FGM in the UK here.

Email contact: NoFGM email

** Hilary Burrage is currently writing a book, Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective

This post has been republished on the Safe World for Women website.

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>>>  Has your organisation (or have you) taken action to Stop FGM along the lines above?  Would you like extra support?

If so, please share your information via the Comments box below:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2013 15:15

    I am with all the social family who is against the FGM. I am thankful to miss Hilary Burrage as she is keeping this issue alive all over.

    • February 10, 2013 15:52

      Thank you. Like many, many others in our ‘social family’ I will do everything I can; it’s all together that we make an impact, soon, I hope.

  2. June 24, 2013 09:50

    Breakthrough! >> *NSPCC FGM HELPLINE* set up today, 24 June 2013

    Call: 0800 028 3550
    Email: fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

    Female Genital Mutilation is child abuse. If you are worried a child may be a victim, or at risk of female genital mutilation don’t wait until you’re certain, contact the NSPCC immediately.

    In the UK, people from the following communities are most at risk of FGM:
    Bohra-Dawoodi (Pakistani and Indian)
    Egyptian
    Eritrean
    Ethiopian
    Ghanaian
    Indonesian
    Kenyan
    Kurdish
    Nigerian
    Sierra Leonean
    Somali
    Sudanese
    Tanzanian
    Yemeni

    Don’t let socio-cultural pressures get in the way of protecting children.

    FGM is a harmful “cultural” practice, but it is not a religious one. Carrying out this practice has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985. However, there has not been a single prosecution to date.

    As with other forms of child abuse, these crimes often remain hidden and unreported, as children are too ashamed or afraid to speak out.

    You can call the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 and send emails to fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk, text on 88858 or use the NSPCC Helpline online form: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/Applications/Forms/HelplineConcern/the-helpline-online-form.aspx

    More information on female genital mutilation here: https://hilaryburrage.com/tag/fgm/

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