A STUDENT from Coleg Gwent has won a high-profile award for her work raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced child marriage.
Sheila Jerome is studying children’s care, learning and development at Coleg Gwent’s City of Newport campus.
Drawing on her own experiences, she has also made it her life’s mission to spread the word about how FGM and child marriage exists in some UK communities while encouraging women to speak out.
Sheila left her native Nigeria four years ago, and travelled to the UK on a student visa, leaving her 8-month-old daughter back in Nigeria in the care of her mother.
It was only when Sheila arrived in the UK that she realised that the personal experiences she had undergone in her own community back in Nigeria were abusive.
She had been forced into marriage at the age of eight, and underwent FGM when she was a baby – practices that were seen as perfectly normal in her native community.
When Sheila explained to the police and social services what had happened to her as a child, it became clear that her own daughter was at risk of becoming a victim of exactly the same thing, so Sheila arranged for her daughter to join her in Wales.