14 March 2016

Activists lead the fight to end FGM

Campaign update by Anna Sørensen.

Anti-FGM couple fights the practice in south-east Nigeria

“When I learned the truth about the danger, lifelong health complications, the pain women go through having the practice done, and even death, I realised I couldn’t let this happen to another girl again.”
- Gift Augustine

Gift and Abu Augustine have spent the last eight years on the road to educate villagers in south-east Nigeria on why FGM must stop.  The couple’s method of tackling FGM is to host workshops where they teach ‘cutters’ skills to make them earn a living other than practicing female genital mutilation.

Learn more about Gift and Abu’s journey.

FGM in Wales

“Every health board in Wales now has a senior midwife who specialises in the care for women who are survivors of female genital mutilation.”
- BBC News

Welsh hospitals cared for 100 survivors of female genital mutilation last year. It is estimated that more than 2,000 women in Wales are living with the consequences of FGM.

Read the full BBC article.

Radio Wales’ Nelli Bird explores the figures presented in the article above in a recent episode of Eye on Wales, featuring campaigner and FGM survivor Hibo Wardere.

FGM declining in Ethiopia

Encouraging results registered in Ethiopia shows that harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, are declining. In collaboration with stakeholders, the Somali State Culture and Tourism Bureau aims to end FGM by training and educating the public to stand against the practice. Measures taken so far include coffee ceremony discussion programmes, religious teachings, lecturing and other community programmes. Even more importantly, the topic is now a part of the school curriculum in hopes to “awaken female students and their brothers to stand together against harmful traditional practices.” Read the article in The Ethiopian Herald. 

Conflicting opinions on how to tackle FGM in Kenya

“It should stop or the culprits will be arrested since that act leads our to be children become traumatized throughout their life.”
- Ezekiel Mokaya

Laws in Kenya prohibit female genital mutilation; still girls in the country are being secretly subjected to the practice by their parents. The majority of these girls are married off immediately after they have undergone the procedure, which prevent them from continuing their education. Riangoi chief Ezekiel Mokaya calls for stakeholders and members of the public to engage in ending FGM by opposing and reporting any cases of the practice.

However, Nyamira County First Lady Naomi Nyagarama believes that investing in civic education in rural areas is the right way to tackle FGM in the country. She said: “Even if you arrest some, I bet that many of these cases are done secretly making it difficult to arrest those responsible. We have to change tack as a nation and that involves investing in civic education.”

Anti-FGM campaigners bust the myths perpetuating FGM

This Refinery 29 article suggests that myths surrounding female genital mutilation prevents the elimination of the practice. Anti-FGM campaigners stress the need to recognise FGM as a structural gender inequality issue and not a traditional, ‘barbaric’ practice.

Survivor and activist in Senegal raises awareness to end FGM

“We have started to educate the young generation and when the older generation goes away, the practice will stop.”
- Mariama Djarama Jo

Female genital mutilation has ben banned in Senegal since 1999, still it is being practiced in certain tribes. Mariama argues that the lack of education amongst ‘cutters’ is the main reason why FGM is still being practiced in Senegal. As a survivor herself, Mariama knows the realities of FGM and has succeeded in preventing her own daughters from undergoing the procedure, with family following in her footsteps.

Learn more about Mariama and the anti-FGM campaign in Senegal.

Fearless anti-FGM campaigner and asylum seeker wins Women of the Year by Women on the Move Awards

“If I don’t speak out, nobody will."
- Mariam Ibrahim Yusuf

Mariam Ibrahim Yusuf left her two children behind when she escaped Somalia eight years ago, unaware of what awaited her: a foreign country, a foreign language and numerous asylum appeals rejected by British authorities. Mariam has spent her years in England tirelessly campaigning for the rights of women who have experienced domestic violence and FGM. She received the Woman of the Year award at Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival on March 11. Women on the Move Awards “celebrates exceptional refugee women who – against the odds - have made an outstanding contribution to women's empowerment and integration”.

Learn more about Mariam and her story.

Ethiopian men learn the realities of FGM through Plan project

“At times, it feels awkward to speak about FGM as a boy. But I pluck up the courage. If I and other boys stay silent, our sisters and friends will die.”
- Alemayehu

Six men from the Ethiopian Sidama Zone community have taken a stand against female genital mutilation after learning the realities of the practice. Community leaders joined Plan International’s children’s welfare project in organising discussion groups around the harms of practicing FGM three years ago.

See the portraits and read the stories of the six men here.

Parents arrested at Heathrow Airport over FGM offences

A mother and father from Somalia were arrested at Heathrow airport on March 9 after the mother arrived on a flight from Nairobi with their eight-year-old daughter. A south London school had raised concerns that the eight-year-old were taken to Somalia to undergo FGM after she told classmates she would be away for some three months. She is temporarily in protective care arranged by the Metropolitan Police and local authorities have applied for an FGM prevention order. 

Read the details around the on-going investigation here.

Two Gambian women charged as 5-month-old girl child dies from FGM

The president announced the banning of female genital mutilation in Gambia in November last year. Now the first two ban offenders have been charged with four criminal offences and the on-going court case has been adjourned to March 15 after the two women denied all allegations.

Learn the details of the case here.

Support UK consultation into tackling violence against women and girls

Youth For Change and Baroness Verma, Ministerial Champion for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Overseas, have discussed how to tackle violence against women on a global level, resulting in three key priority areas: domestic violence, adolescent girls and how to engage men and boys in tackling the issues of VAWG.

Youth For Change takes this opportunity to invite you to take part in a short survey where your recommendations on how these issues can be tackled will be passed on to Baroness Verma.

Please read more about and complete the survey to have you say.

28 Too Many volunteer Anna Sørensen is studying journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Anna writes weekly blogs which report on progress in the campaign to end FGM in the UK and internationally.

You can donate to support our research and campaign to protect girls and end this practice. Please also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the global movement to end FGM.