Archive for the ‘FGM’ Category

‘I still feel the pain sometimes’ says FGM victim

IT will make me a woman, I remember them saying that.” More than two decades later, the woman, who does not wish to be named, recalls the trauma of undergoing female genital mutilation as a child in Nigeria, where about 20 million women and girls are estimated to have undergone the abuse.

Aged just six, she was pinned to her bed by her mother and aunt while another aunt used a blade to cut her.

“I was only six-years-old and my mum came into my room that morning and she was extraordinarily nice,” she says. “She was telling me that she would take me to the park and take me shopping to buy new clothes. I could only wonder what I had done overnight to be so fantastic. I thought to myself maybe it’s my lucky day.

“She said you will have all this on one condition, if you do what I ask you. I said yes.

“Later two of my aunts came into the house and my mum came into my room. Somehow I was now in a panic about what she wants me to do. She said there was something in my vagina that needs to be removed so that in the future my husband would be proud of me. I didn’t really understand.

“I was really getting scared now. It will make me a woman, I remember they said that. They made me lie down and my mum held my legs and one of my aunts held my two hands and the other aunt cut me with a sharp blade.”

She adds: “I cried and cried and I was bleeding. She put this black mixture on me and there was even more pain and the bleeding didn’t stop.”

Eventually after two weeks of pain and depression, she was taken to hospital but was sent back home. “They said if this is female genital mutilation to go home because it’s something that happens to everyone,” she adds.

After moving to Middlesbrough ten years ago, the FGM victim has been seeking help in understanding what happened to her through the Halo Project, in Middlesbrough, which helps FGM victims, and women at risk of honour-based violence.

She says: “I still feel that pain sometimes. I had post traumatic stress disorder. I’m still coping with it now. I was on the verge of suicide because of the depression.

“I can’t block out that memory of that experience or the consequences.

“I lost relationships because at the point I felt so different. That’s why I went to the Halo project which is when I started to get some more awareness of what had happened to me.

“They could put a definition to what had happened. I went on a six week course and it has changed my life.”

Speaking ahead of the UN’s day of zero tolerance towards FGM, she adds: “I want to share my story to create awareness that FGM does no good in any way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, medically – it does no good, only harm. It’s an abuse. I was a victim but thanks to Halo I’m a survivor.”

SHE is one of around 137,000 women living in the UK thought to be affected by FGM, with a further 20,000 girls at risk. In the UK, figures from the NHS’s digital data service suggest that last year there were 1,060 newly recorded cases of FGM in England, with 265 reported in the North.

In the North-East, 20 FGM Protection Orders have been made since 2015.

Noreen Riaz, from the Halo Project, says: “We know there are 28 affected communities and there’s a large number of people living in the UK affected by this.

“We have evidence that some girls are flown to countries where it happens. We’ve also heard of cutters being flown into the UK.

“Girls at risk can be infants, right up to the age where they are getting married. In different communities and different countries the processes differ.

“It doesn’t excuse it but people think their children will be ostracised if they don’t do it. FGM is a child abuse. It’s a violation of human rights.”

Agencies in the North-East are working together to try and encourage more victims and potential victims to come forward.

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15921338.__39_I_still_feel_the_pain_sometimes__39__says_FGM_victim/

Global event calling for end to FGM to start here

A worldwide social media campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) is being launched in Dublin tomorrow with the backing of the #MeToo movement.

The event will be led by Ifrah Ahmed (29), who was born in Somalia and survived the barbaric practice.

She is now living in Dublin and helped organise this week’s demonstration, which is supported by celebrities including singer Imelda May.

Activists aim to mark zero tolerance day for FGM with a million #MeToo sexual harassment campaigners using the hashtag #MeTooFGM to indicate their support.

Speaking at the launch of the National Plan of Action, Ms Ahmed said: “FGM is the ultimate form of violence against women and female children…the forcible removal of a child’s sexual organs to control her sexuality has been going on since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.

“We are calling on all women everywhere who care about women’s rights to support their sisters in 30 countries across the world to call for an end to FGM.”

Play about FGM tours secondary schools to raise awareness of issue

Play about FGM tours secondary schools to raise awareness of issue

Play about FGM tours secondary schools to raise awareness of issue

A critically acclaimed play about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Britain is touring secondary schools to educate pupils on the issue.

The play Cuttin’It tells the story of two British-Somali teenage girls who have both experienced FGM, and will visit schools in London and Birmingham.

Each school visit includes a pre-show workshop and a post-show Q&A with year 9 and 10 pupils exploring the law surrounding FGM, the different types, and the impact on health, all led by Young Court, the inclusive programme arm of the Royal Court Theatre.

Young Court staff received training from Solace Women’s Aid and Louise Williams, a clinical nurse specialist at the women’s division of University College Hospital, in order to prepare for the sessions.

“Using theatre as a tool has been an exciting way to engage young people in a topic that can sometimes feel inaccessible,” said Ellie Fulcher, one of the organisers. “The work is essential in teaching young people about the female body, exploring gender stereotypes and external pressures in their lives as well as learning about FGM.”

Play about FGM tours secondary schools to raise awareness of issue

Campaigner Leyla Hussein on why FGM is a British problem too

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https://www.ft.com/content/a7bbcda2-f6f1-11e7-88f7-5465a6ce1a00

Psychotherapist and campaigner Leyla Hussein is on the couch. “If this could speak, it would tell some stories.” Limbs crossed nimbly, Hussein leans into the brown suede: “I’ve cried on this; I came up with the idea for my counselling service; I crashed here after a day filming an FGM documentary.” Like many of the things in Hussein’s two-bedroom east London flat, the sofa is both a comfort and a repository for some of the past’s most testing moments. Somali-British and a “survivor” of female genital mutilation (FGM), Hussein, 37, has led a campaign since the early 2000s lobbying the UK government and raising public awareness. “I guess I’ve become the black, Muslim, feminist woman who writes and talks about sex and patriarchy — which is quite a rare thing.”

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https://www.ft.com/content/a7bbcda2-f6f1-11e7-88f7-5465a6ce1a00

The flat is a literal “haven” for Hussein, who was moved there in 2006 (the third time in two years) after receiving threats of violence related to her work. “I had been campaigning for four years and started calling FGM child abuse — people didn’t like that. I was physically attacked in the streets.” In the media, Hussein is a one-issue campaigner. But she is impatient with this compartmentalisation: “The issue is much broader; it’s about girls being told their bodies are not good enough.” She says the media want to define FGM as “what black and Asian people do” rather than a practice that encompasses intimate cosmetic surgery and extreme gynaecological procedures that were carried out on some British women into the 20th century.

https://www.ft.com/content/a7bbcda2-f6f1-11e7-88f7-5465a6ce1a00

‘There was blood everywhere’: Survivor among hundreds stopped in FGM crackdown at Heathrow Airport

Exclusive: At least 14,250 women and girls living in the UK have undergone FGM

“It was painful, so painful, there was blood everywhere,” Yeabu recalls. “There were other people watching in the room. They were singing their own songs. They were happy when they were cutting me.”

Yeabu* was 16 when her parents sent her to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) in Sierra Leone, telling her afterwards: “You’ve become a proper woman now.”

She says she remembers knowing what was going to happen to her, but was too frightened to fight after seeing other children held down while fighting and biting the cutters.

“As a young girl you have to do it because for them it’s decency,” she explains. “When you’re with your man you are clean if you do that, that’s the mentality.

“I was frightened but we don’t disrespect our people. I they say that’s part of our tradition we have to go through it, but it’s not something I wanted.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-police-heathrow-airport-crackdown-operation-limelight-national-centre-a8155981.html

Drop in number of new FGM cases reported could be misleading, charity warns

Fears of having children taken into care may be driving a recent drop in the number of women and girls who have experienced female genital mutilation (FGM) identified by the NHS, a charity has warned.

NHS Digital figures published this week show that the number of new cases of FGM reported by the NHS between July and September has fallen by a third since reporting first started in April 2015.

The latest figures show 1,060 women were identified in the NHS as having experienced FGM, also known as female circumcision or “cutting”, down from 1,570 in the first quarter of reporting.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/fgm-cases-new-figures-drop-could-be-misleading-warning-forward-equality-now-freedom-rcm-a8093741.html

‘FGM risk’ Sheffield woman and child must stay in UK

A woman and child have been banned from travelling abroad, to avoid the risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

On Thursday, Sheffield Family Court gave police the go-ahead to issue FGM protection orders to protect “a victim and a potential victim”.

A total of eight FGM protection orders have been granted to South Yorkshire Police since they were introduced in 2015.

Police said the two had been identified during an ongoing investigation.

The orders allow police to “prevent them from being taken out of the UK and into a situation where they could be at greater risk”, a South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said.

FGM, also termed female circumcision, is illegal in the UK and carries a sentence of up to 14 years in jail.

The term refers to any procedure that alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Det Sgt Suzanne Jackson, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The effectiveness of these orders has enabled us to safeguard victims and potential victims, and further prevent the detrimental and devastating long-term effect they could and may have been subjected to.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-42030739

Youngsters in Waltham Forest encouraged to use art to tackle extremism online

ASPIRING artists are putting their skills to good use by launching a project to tackle the threat of extremism online.

Arts Against Extremism is a youth-led project aimed at supporting people aged 16 to 21 to become activists, flooding social media with positive messages about their communities.

Created in partnership by the Arts Council, Waltham Forest Council and the Home Office, the project was launched on Saturday October 14 at Centre17 in Church Hill, Walthamstow.

Cllr Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for community safety and cohesion, said the aim is to give every young person in the borough the encouragement to become a “voice for social change”.

Anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner Hibo Wardere of Walthamstow praised the “pioneering project”.

She said: “It recognises the wider harms of extremism, including FGM, and aims to engage youths in becoming a positive voice that stands up against it. “I will be following the project’s every move online and supporting it wherever I can.”

The launch of the project follows the Home Office’s findings from March 2017 identifying 126,000 tweets containing extremist messages and the rise of ‘fake news’ and ‘trolling’ on social media.

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/15603977.Project_encourages_youngsters_to_use_art_to_tackle_extremism_online/

FGM and disability also hinder girls’ education

Your sponsored roundtable on educating girls (Society, 4 October) is to be commended both for laying bare the critical need to address this issue in general, and for acknowledging the complications and taboos around menstruation as a severe obstacle to progress. It is difficult to understand, however, why the painful topic of female genital mutilation was not also a focus of discussion. One required element in some communities of the lengthy initiation ceremonies to “adulthood” mentioned is that girls must undergo FGM. This cruel initiation, often at or just before puberty, is the marker by which potential husbands (often already owners of other wives) are in traditional thinking assured of their soon-to-be purchased wife’s virginity. Raising a girl and paying for her FGM is expensive – ceremonies are often held around harvest time when there’s more money – and bride price is increased if the girl-woman is “pure”.

Until girls are no longer perceived as chattels for exchange on the open market, the practices of FGM and early “marriage” (child rape) will continue. As your commentators acknowledge, FGM and early marriage will only be abandoned once men and women alike see these practices as patriarchy incarnate, the literal imposition of men’s power on female bodies. Assumed patriarchal entitlement remains to be challenged in many parts of the world, but nowhere more than in places where its imposition actually precludes young women even receiving an education which will empower both them personally and their wider communities.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/06/fgm-and-disability-also-hinder-girls-education

Police are ‘determined’ to bring country’s first prosecution for female genital mutilation as they launch campaign to protect children coming from abroad

Police are targeting Eurostar terminals to protect children from female genital mutilation (FGM) as officers say they are ‘absolutely determined’ to obtain the first successful prosecution for the crime since it was outlawed over 30 years ago.

Inspector Allen Davis, from Scotland Yard’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said it was ‘really important’ to show the practice, made illegal in 1985, is not tolerated.

A police operation to protect children from practices including FGM, forced marriage, breast ironing and child abuse linked to beliefs focused on Eurostar terminal in London and Kent today.

Difficulties getting people to report FGM and testify against family members is one of a ‘number of reasons’ nobody has yet been convicted, Mr Davis said at St Pancras.

‘We are absolutely determined to obtain a successful prosecution,’ he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4877470/FGM-campaign-aims-protect-children-coming-abroad.html

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