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FGM Is Patriarchy Incarnate: @NoFGM_UK Contributes To #16Days #GBVTeachin

December 5, 2014

cutting shardsFriday 5 December ’14 was my day to join the Rutgers University ‘s #16Days of Advocacy Against Gender-Based Violence, with special reference in my case to female genital mutilation (FGM) in the diaspora, in Europe , North America and Australia.  I’ve posted below all my Tweets as @NoFGM_UK, more or less in the order I wrote them.  It’s quite a challenge to say things in 140 characters each time, but I hope I’ve captured the essence of some of the facts and views most relevant to my subject.

So here we go….

All these Tweets were posted with the hashtags #16Days and #GBVTeachin.  (Your thoughts are most welcome as Comments, below.)

@NoFGM_UK tweets:

#FGM is a fundamentally feminist issue; it is lethal, defies human rights and demeans both women AND men

Here’s the reality: #FGM is the ultimate form of oppression; it’s patriarchy incarnate. Diminishes us all.

Feminist Statement on #FGM  Do sign here.

[See also final four Tweets, below, for more about feminism and why it is such a critical issue.]

Don’t forget, is *MUTILATION* . The term adopted by Bamako Declaration in 2005 No euphemisms

All child abuse is vile. We need to be clear that includes #FGM, #CEFM (child, early + forced marriage), breast-ironing>

> and other child abuse such as ‘domestic’ violence, witchcraft, forced feeding (or starvation) and much more >>

>> May be easier to get the message the #FGM is child abuse over in western than traditionally practising countries?

Update on #FGM developments and news regularly; subscribe (absolutely free) to #NoFGM Daily News …

There is also a USA version of the No #FGM Daily News …. That’s also free, absolutely no obligation

Western countries must provide safe houses for girls/women fleeing #FGM, just as traditionally practising nations must.

More than 200 girls flee their homes to escape #FGM …

Only way to combat #FGM is to face up to it and ensure it stops, also explaining to communities the harm it does, + why

Medicalization of #FGM is a grim misuse of modern clinical skills and the WHO opposes it strongly. Occurs a lot in Egypt

It is also thought that girls from UK (?and elsewhere) may be sent to Singapore and poss Emirates for medicalised #FGM

When clinicians do #FGM they earn fees + use skills illegally; and they let parents off the hook whilst hurting children

Medicalization #FGM is NOT the answer; reaffirms right of powerful people (ultimately men) to remove others’ body parts.

The Health + Social Care Information Centre has started to post monthly stats on #FGM in England …

In the period up to end of Sept 2014 cases of #FGM reported in English hospitals were 1,279. In October another 467 new cases were reported.

Do not assume BOTH parents (guardians) want girls to have #FGM. Work with women + men both to support dissenting parents

But tho #FGM is criminal it’s also complicated by family loyalties + sometimes v worried parents. Help them avoid cruelty

Embarrassment is a problem in tackling #FGM. Portray it as abuse and that may lessen. All abuse is criminal, must stop.

To eradicate #FGM requires National Plan, eg, for the UK. Piece-meal responses will not do; joined up approach essential

It’s probably not true that #FGM must stop in traditionally practising countries before it can stop in the west.Be firm!

Newly appointed UK Shadow Solicitor General @KarlTurnerMP, strong advocate for eradicating #FGM …

We must treat #FGM like all other child abuse – prevention, detection, + support for children involved; AND INVOLVE MEN

France has very different legal approach to #FGM from eg UK. Linda Weil-Curiel is a lead attorney …

A problem re #FGM detection is the police are not diverse / experienced enough in engagement with practising comminities

Very little currently known about psychological impacts of #FGM. Inflicted by trusted carers,grimly painful, traumatic..

#FGM occurs in the diaspora. The diaspora is mobile. Static + rigid systems to eradicate won’t work. Joined-up thinking

The media must take care to portray #FGM survivors as people +to recognise that they must not be alone re responsibility

There are debates about #FGM and labiaplasty etc; the critical issues are consent (no children) and avoidance of damage.

Incidence data on #FGM very patchy in western societies. Full picture essential to develop policy for UK / USA / Oz etc.

One challenge is to insist #FGM is illegal and cruel, but people in practising communities are people like everyone else

All children need #PSHE so they can think about what they feel and hope for. All boys + girls must learn to resist #FGM.

.Yana Richens OBE Services for women #EndFGM cannot be commissioned or planned without knowing how many women suffer join DH consultation thnx @janeellisonmp

We know so little about the fate in western countries of (most) girls with #FGM. Only the brave few manage to speak out>

> but why should girls with #FGM speak out unless they really want to? It’s our job to protect, not theirs to protest.

Girls who have #FGM tend to drop out of school, as do other children with problems. Critical that research tells us more

Parents may resist enquiries about #FGM + other child abuse. The legal system must ensure right questions / observations

Not all clinicians know to look out for #FGM + other violence to children (think Baby P). Essential they ask + examine.

When #FGM occurs it’s essential that perpetrators are brought to account. That’s ‘normal’ detective work, find criminals

MEN are critical to protecting children; if they stay at arm’s length #FGM / other abuse won’t stop.They MUST speak out.

If the State won’t protect its most vulnerable members from abuse #FGM etc, what’s for? FUNDING in UK is also essential.

Protection of most vulnerable members of society (#FGM or other abuse) is a fundamental, core role of the state itself.

To stop #FGM in western nations (+ elsewhere?) Govts must INVEST MONEY + TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. It’s not a charity matter.

The UK Govt repeats responsibility for stopping #FGM lies with teachers, nurses, the police; but Guidelines not enough.

National protocols are only way to address #FGM + other child abuse. Local responses don’t work. People can move away.

For teachers to address #FGM AND OTHER ABUSE properly, they need training and national protocols + #PSHE, not lecturing.

In UK > Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs). They’re weak re #FGM: not required attendance + poor school links.

Some traditional #FGM locations are working on #ARP (alternative rites of passage) substitutes. Results are mixed becos>

> #ARPs will prob only ‘work’ where the rationale for #FGM relates to achieving adult status,not where it’s about purity.

Teachers, especially men? are uncertain how to detect #FGM risk / what to do, if so. #MandateNow required reporting helps

It is absolutely true that ‘culture change’ is required, but that will be easier if #FGM is perceived as ‘just’ abuse >

> If #FGM is labelled as abuse it may be easier to challenge and address. It needs to be seen in every community as No.

Diaspora families know #FGM is illegal. Sometimes they ‘reinterpret’ the law, sometimes they hide activity or go abroad.

@RaquelEvita …  .@NoFGM_UK, reminds us that efforts like #16Days #GBVteachin impacted by crises like #EbolaOutbreak in #SierraLeone – meetings are risky.

UK now has formal anonymous reporting of all #FGM patients in English hospitals. Not enough, but a start, for good stats

Sometimes medics (midwives?) want to ‘protect’ their patients for kind reasons, but that must be via protocols, not them

When #FGM suspected it is VITAL that enforcement and protection services be alerted. Decision is NOT for medics, schools

Legal enforcement of No #FGM is separate from decisions of child protection services + the courts, who determine action.

I am convinced that law has a role in #FGM eradication, as prevention / deterrence and as punishment, but not alone.

And #FGM can also change / stop due to outside contexts (eg Sierra Leone, where #Ebola has made meetings dangerous).

Tho’ #FGM is deeply traditional it isn’t immutable. In some places (Egypt) it’s now medicalized, against WHO strictures.

Today we focus on #FGM but #MGM is violation too, and sometimes hazardous as well. See … @tflevin

@ShirleyRandell Importance of using data to measure gender equality @MakeWomenCount @IntlWomen @FEMNETProg #humanrights #equality …

.@AfricaPost2015 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Statements 

One v difficult comparison (or not) is #FGM / non-med-required #MGM. My view, both are human rights abuses for children.

.@AllisonGranted I am retweeting and sharing a lot because it’s important that I share the voices of Black people and support them. #BlackLivesMatter

Western nations must be clear that ALL children have good futures as independent autonomous, responsible adults. No #FGM

Whilst BME girls in western nations have fewer life chances (overall) thn others the economic rebuttal of #FGM is tricky

One thing which must be acknowledged re #FGM is many victims (children, survivors > adult) want to protect their parents >

> because parents feared otherwise their daughters would be unmarried and destitute. We MUST show there are better ways

The challenge in western societies (and elsewhere) is to stop #FGM / other abuse so people don’t need to accommodate it.

Everyone has to find ways to cope with things which happen, #FGM survivors are like the rest of us in seeking resolution

Of course in modern societies #FGM survivors (some die) need to find ways to accommodate what their parents did to them.

Everyone has to find ways to cope with things which happen, #FGM survivors are like the rest of us in seeking resolution

But #FGM isn’t always (if ever) an ‘act of love’; it’s an economic transaction in societies where women are market goods

The traditional claim for #FGM is it protects girls’ ‘purity’,makes them eligible for ‘good’ (ie high dowry) marriage.

So #FGM is ‘cultural’ in the sense it reflects beliefs about the need for women to be subordinate to men. Demeans both.

 ~ ~ ~ … Plz sign and share! Thx

@drspender has some very salient words on #Feminism.. [It] has fought no wars…  [cont.  Dr Dale Spender]

‘We should all be feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She’s not just an amazing writer but a…  via @OctoberBooks

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

.@booksanddance Coffee drinking, book reading feminist. Love the goddess, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Fighting back against the racist, homophobic, misogynistic right wingers.

 ~ ~ ~

#FF@replacefgm2 @HiboWardere @HawaDSesay @GoodMenProject @16DaysCampaign @comfortmomoh @KarlTurnerMP @TheAlimo @BAREtruthT @BaldehF @SafeHands4Girls @Yanarichens @SarahBrownUK @FamilyPlanndMum @NoFGMBookUK @NoFGM_USA @SamburuGirlsFDN @VABVOX @roshniscotland @DexterDiasQC @FGMStatement @NoFGM_Oz @UnCUTVOICES @Mashua @NoFGM_France @tflevin @maggiebi3 @ChasingTheCut @sybilmw @carsonmaryc @hodamali @KhadijaGbla @gillypom @eurogender @darf_charity @KenyaChildFund @felicitygerry @ConsideredView @JahaENDFGM @JulieBarton @twinteachie @beyond_fgm @28TooMany @NoFGM_Kenya @HilaryBurrage @FGMQuestions @mydaughtersarmy  @StopMGM @NoFGM_UKideas

So who else…?

Why not Tweet your favourite #FF handles to @NoFGM_UK now [and/or add them as Comment below]? Let’s share some more…. and don’t be shy if it’s YOU!

~ ~ ~

Appreciation: Efua Dorkenoo OBE, the woman who steadfastly led the way for so long …  via @HilaryBurrage

UK Parliament Home Affairs Committee Report On Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)  via @HilaryBurrage

Submission To UK Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry On #FGM  via @HilaryBurrage

Rational-Emotional ‘Divorce’ In Iran  via @HilaryBurrage #VAWG How do women cope (or not)?

Drop The Clichés:#MandateNow + Simple Protocols Essential To Prevent #FGM A…  via @HilaryBurrage

The Real Economics Of #FGM: It’s (Much) More Than ‘Wages’  via @HilaryBurrage

UN Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo Visits UK – My Briefing Note On #VAGW #FGM×7  via @HilaryBurrage

Schools Must Safeguard Girls From #FGM; But How?  via @HilaryBurrage #MandateNow is critical

From Rage To Effective Action Against #FGM  via @HilaryBurrage #BringBackOurGirls

Does Female Genital Mutilation (#FGM) In Western Societies Create An Underclass?  @HilaryBurrage

#FGM: “We May Be About To See The Change We All So Much Want.”  via @HilaryBurrage

Islam Channel Television Examines #FGM in the UK  via @HilaryBurrage Views of an Iman + Activists

Report: Harmful Traditional Practices In Diaspora Communities  via @HilaryBurrage #FGM #VAGW

Sing + Shout Against FGM: Where Arts, Human Rights, The ‘Old Days’ + A Big UN Announcem…  via @HilaryBurrage

Will The ‘Girl Summit’ Speed Ending #FGM In The UK?  via @HilaryBurrage

UK Home Office (Says It) Has No Data On FGM Asylum Claims [Can this be true?]  via @HilaryBurrage

Does Female Genital Mutilation (#FGM) In Western Societies Create An Underclass?  @HilaryBurrage

Making FGM History In The UK: Manchester, 22 September 2014  via @HilaryBurrage

The Other #FGM Debate: Is Male Circumcision Also Child Abuse?  via @HilaryBurrage #NoMGM

#FGM In Britain: A Scandal About To Break…? (And The Risks Of Summer ‘Ho…  via @HilaryBurrage

Some The Big Issues In Making #FGM History  via @HilaryBurrage

#FGM will not stop without cross-party impetus: Labour FGM Fringe Event ~ Some Outcomes  via @HilaryBurrage

Female Genital Mutilation: Why Does This ‘Holiday’ Horror Endure?  via @HilaryBurrage #FGM

The Crown Prosecution Service Finally Responds To The Horrors Of #FGM In T…  via @HilaryBurrage

Read more about FGM as Patriarchy Incarnate

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



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

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

Also available to follow is daily news from NoFGM_USA.

For more on FGM please see here.

Twitter accounts: @NoFGM_UK  @NoFGMBookUK  @FGMStatement  @NoFGM_USA   [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



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sara Gourlay permalink
    December 6, 2014 18:39

    This is child abuse in the extreme and it still goes on in abundance in this country where it has been illegal for many years although still no-one has been prosecuted for carrying out this atrocity. So, where are the leaflets, posters, brochures for victims to help them get advice and support?

    • December 6, 2014 22:22

      Here’s one of the NoFGM posters currently in circulation, Sara. It was photographed on a train.
      Whilst I too am very dissatisfied with the level of general coverage, it has to be said that awareness is now increasing quite rapidly, with big campaigns by, eg, the Guardian, Independent and Evening Standard, as well as TV programmes such as The Cut and quite a lot of work (including campaigns for more PSHE) in schools.
      You are right to ask the questions (even though there is more going on that you may have seen), but the pressure for leaflets etc should be put on Ministers such as Lynne Featherstone, not on volunteers and/or on hard-pressed campaigners who work on tiny shoe string budgets.
      If you do write to the relevant politicians, why not share your letter/s here as well, with any replies you receive?

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