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The Guardian Newspaper Readers’ Campaign To Eradicate FGM *In The UK* – Your Feedback

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 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 see 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…..

Ideas for UK action so far (please see Comments to date – you are welcome now to add your own) include:

Empower FGM opponents within communities

  • Show films and other materials which alert everyone to the dangers of FGM – use television, documentaries, other widely available forms of presentation as becomes possible
  • Give a strong voice to young people, both young women and young men
  • Enable those who have experienced FGM to tell their stories (without personal risk?)
  • Recognise that working with ‘elders’ alone is not the answer
  • And / or, encourage religious leaders to speak out
  • Seek to understand the embedded traditions which lead community members to think FGM safeguards women ‘morally, spiritually and physically’
  • Equip community workers to challenge FGM and also all other forms of harmful traditional practices

Insist that every Department of UK Government plays its part

  • Specifically, demand that Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) makes PSHE a compulsory element of the curriculum for all school children, introducing FGM as appropriate at various ages
  • Consider how much of the promised £35m funding to fight FGM should be for global work, and how much for the UK
  • Make sure there is central / national / focused responsibility for eradicating FGM.

Equip the front line workers

  • Make FGM awareness (and how to address it) an essential part of the undergraduate and continuing professional curriculum for clinicians – doctors, nurses, midwives etc – and for teachers, social workers, police officers and others at the front line
  • Create a formal, structured reporting system for children at risk
  • Make FGM reporting mandatory
  • Use mandatory reporting to ensure protection of the next generation of girls at risk
  • Require FGM reporting for health / medical statistics
  • Ensure that all the colloquial / community names for FGM are known and understood.

Focus on girls and women 

  • Examine children (girls, or all children?) in infancy and again as deemed necessary, in the course of required health checks (at what ages may be a matter for debate??)
  • Challenge distorted / ill-informed body images and labiaplasty (‘designer vaginas’)

Focus on boys and men

  • Ask men to insist that their wives (and daughters?) are not ‘cut’
  • Ensure that boys and men are aware of FGM and what it entails
  • Challenge men’s ideas about female ‘purity’ and virginity

Work with further and higher education establishments

  • Develop partnerships with universities and colleges to inform and empower students to take action against FGM

Consider how to use the legislation

  • Use the legislation to bring prosecutions which give out an important signal that FGM will not be tolerated (and insist the law be enforced)
  • Or, avoid criminal action in favour only of community education and awareness-raising?
  • Think about whether legislation should be a primary consideration, or whether, as some within communities say, it is  hypocritical of activists to demand prosecutions now, but not historically of eg their parents
  • Ensure that police etc activity doesn’t result in future FGM being conducted ‘underground’
  • Prosecute anyone who promotes FGM for inciting violence – and if necessary use undercover agents
  • Offer offending parents incentives (eg suspended sentences) if they help the prosecution of cutters.

Study the successes of other countries

  • What can the UK learn from successes in eradicating FGM elsewhere?
  • Which programs have been most successful, and why?

Work with the UK Border Agency

  • Ensure that everyone travelling to places where FGM is traditionally practised is aware that FGM on British citizens is illegal, wherever it is done
  • Research the extent to which girls are still being taken abroad for FGM

Study the psychology of FGM and child abuse generally

  • Recognise that empathy is an important element of refusing to do FGM
  • Recognise that abused children may adopt strategies to prevent the punishment of their abusers

** To discuss these views further, or share your alternative ideas for domestic (UK) actions PLEASE COMMENT HERE. **

[To suggest actions globally, please post your comments HERE.]

Our deadline for initial thoughts is 8 January 2014.

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