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International Women’s Day: A Thank You To My #EndFGM Colleagues And Friends

March 8, 2021

It was in the 1980s that my mother (now a centenarian) first told me about female genital mutilation (FGM).  She was active as a Quaker and as a member of Amnesty International (UK), and somehow this awful practice had come up in a discussion.  Could these stories of FGM be true, she asked? I promised, with my medic sister, to do my best to find out.

How could I know way back then that this earnest question by my Mum would come to expand my horizons, extend my networks and friendships, and shape my life?

Slowly, as I tried to make sense of what I was learning, the ubiquity of the practice of FGM and its awful consequences became clear; and with that clarity came my determination to do something about it.  The thought of women and girls experiencing such a painful and dangerous ‘rite of passage’ (whatever the rationale) was too grim to ignore.

The real breakthrough in my enquiries came with the declaration on 6 February 2003 of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, a hugely important statement by leading members of the  Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) which I stumbled across on the internet some while after it was published.

From then on my course was set.  This was not about me, but it was part of a cause I have tried to support for as long as I can remember – the right of all people, and especially disadvantaged girls and women, to lead their lives as healthily and positively as they can.

Little did I realise, back then, that researching and working to #EndFGM would give me something which I have since come so much to value and appreciate – a massive network of colleagues and friends, women (and men) across the globe, all committed to eradicating FGM and other harmful practices.

Many of these women and men are working in really challenging situations, all of them have to confront some very distressing ‘facts of life’, some of them face real personal danger; and every single one I know, survivor, lobbyist / campaigner, researcher, professional practitioner or policy developer, is a thoroughly decent human being.

It’s a privilege to be able to work with such people; and on International Women’s Day I wanted especially to salute the brave and determined women (my supportive Mum, sister and also now daughter of course included) who strive and have striven to make the world a better, safer place for girls and women.

Everyone, man or woman, girl or boy, who seeks to #EndFGM is a wonderful person, but just for today I would like to say ‘Thank you Ladies’ (or Women/Womin, or whatever you prefer to be called) for your stout and generous hearts and for your friendship.

Read more about Zero Tolerance for FGM

Your Comments on this topic are welcome.  
Please post them in the box which follows these announcements…..

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Books by Hilary Burrage on female genital mutilation

18.04.12 FGM books together IMG_3336 (3).JPG

Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Hilary Burrage, Ashgate / Routledge 2015).
Full contents and reviews   HERE.
FEMALE MUTILATION: The truth behind the horrifying global practice of female genital mutilation  (Hilary Burrage, New Holland Publishers 2016).
Full contents and reviews   HERE.


There is a free FGM hotline for anyone in the UK: 0800 028 3550, or email:

Details of NHS Specialist Services for FGM here.

More info and posts on FGM here.

Activists, service providers and researchers may like to join the LinkedIn group Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Information, reports and research, which has several hundred members from around the world.

The (free) #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 at no cost or obligation is the #NoFGM_USA Daily News.

Twitter accounts:          @NoFGM_UK  @NoFGMBookUK @FemaleMutlnBook  @FGMStatement  @NoFGM_USA @NoFGM_Kenya  @NoFGM_France  @GuardianEndFGM [tag for all: #NoFGM] and @StopMGM.

Facebook page: #NoFGM – a crime against humanity

Email contact: via Hilary


[NB The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children, which has a primary focus on FGM, is clear that in formal discourse any term other than ‘mutilation’ concedes damagingly to the cultural relativists – though the terms employed may of necessity vary in informal discussion with those who by tradition use alternative vocabulary. See the Feminist Statement on the Naming and Abolition of Female Genital Mutilation,  The Bamako Declaration: Female Genital Mutilation Terminology and the debate about Anthr/Apologists on this website.]


This article concerns approaches to the eradication specifically of FGM.  I am also categorically opposed to MGM, but that is not the focus of this particular piece.

Anyone wishing to offer additional comment on more general considerations around infant and juvenile genital mutilation is asked please to do so via these relevant dedicated threads.

Discussion of the general issues re M/FGM will not be published unless they are posted on these dedicated pages. Thanks.

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