All posts filed under: Female Genital Mutilation

Building a movement around Khatna

This is part 2 in a two-part series on FGM in India. Read Part 1 here.  Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or “Khatna”, as it is referred to in India, is practised secretly among the Bohra community. Over the past year, several women from the community have spoken up about the practice while encouraging other women from the community to speak up as well. I speak to Mariya Taher from Sahiyo, an organisation building a movement against Khatna on this issue and their work. “More than a year ago, five women who felt strongly about the ritual of female genital cutting within the Bohra community came together to fight this practise. Each one of us had been working on the topic for many years,” Mariya said. Mariya is a social worker, activist and writer who lives in the United States. The group includes a social worker, a researcher, two filmmakers and a journalist located in different parts of the world; and all of whom had already been speaking out against the practice of Khatna. “As our …

Indian women speak out against FGM

This article is part 1 of a two-part series on FGM in India Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is traditionally known to be practised in 30 African countries. According to latest reports from international agencies like UNICEF, it is said that FGM has been done on at least 200 million girls. I recently interviewed Masooma Ranalvi who began a campaign to encourage Indian women from the Bohra community to speak up against the practice. The practice is called Khatna locally and is classified as Type 1 FGM by the WHO. It is estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million Bohras globally who have undergone FGM but numbers on how many have been cut are still unavailable. GG: I read about the campaign India Speaks Out on FGM through the article highlighting the petition in The Ladies Finger. Till I read this article, I had no idea that the practice existed in India. It is usually portrayed as an African issue. Your thoughts? MR: Yes that’s true. It is India’s best kept secret. There is a reason behind …

Zero Tolerance for FGM

This post is written by: Paula Kweskin, Human Rights Attorney and Documentary Filmmaker Imagine a surgery performed with dirty instruments, without anesthesia, and no doctor. No one dresses your wounds and there are no follow-up appointments. This is not a description of a medieval medical procedure; it is a practice which takes place every six minutes around the world. 140 million girls and women have been affected by female genital mutilation (FGM), the cutting and/or removal of a girl’s genitalia in order to preserve her “honor” or “purity.” FGM violates several human rights principles, including rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. FGM is not prescribed by any particular religion, and yet it is often advocated by religious and community leaders who believe the removal of a girl’s clitoris is necessary to ensure she marries well, brings honor to her family or clan, preserves her virginity and limits her sexual drive. FGM is …

Ending Child Marriage and FGM Saves Lives and Money

This post is co-written by: Rachel, Policy Associate and Salma, Egypt Fellow Around the world, women’s and girls’ value as human beings is all too often based largely upon their sexuality, rather than their personal and societal contributions. Disproportionately, girls around the world are pulled out of school, restricted in terms of where and how they can get around and with who whom they are allowed to speak. Many are forced into unwanted marriages. One of the most profound ways girls are affected is they’re often forced to undergo what is known as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). FGM/C is a type of surgery performed on young girls – in a misguided effort – to “preserve their purity.” This surgery can cause irreparable harm to girls’ health and, in some cases, can be deadly. Take, for example, Sohier Al-Batea, a 13-year old Egyptian girl, who died in 2013 after a trained and licensed medical doctor cut away parts of her external genitalia as part of a FGM/C surgery. Though universally considered a human rights violation, FGM/C …

A Global Problem: Visualization of FGM Around the World

FGM has a reputation of being a rare and remote practice, inflicted on only girls in the poorest communities in the most underdeveloped countries. L ittle surprise. Given the brutality and futility of the practice, it is difficult to imagine that it would persist long if girls, women and their communities were given alternatives. Yet, FGM does persist in great numbers. And most people are surprised to learn that although it is concentrated in Africa, it is also seen in the Middle East, Europe, North America and South America, with unconfirmed reports in other countries. A brief overview of FGM globally shows the scope of the problem. This month’s stand against FGM needs to be truly international to ensure all girls and women, regardless of country, regardless of community, are protected from cutting, burning and scarring, both physically and psychologically. Check out this interactive map which gives a broad scope of the issue around the world.   Cover Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond, Flickr Creative Commons

One Year On: #YouthForChange mark the Girl Summit anniversary

This post was originally published on Voices of Youth. One year ago this month, South London’s Walworth Academy welcomed a group of guests with a unifying belief – that female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) can and must end within a generation. On Wednesday 22nd July, we celebrated the progress made over the past year – #YouthForChange Panel Member and Girls’ Globe blogger Eleanor was there to capture the event. Girl Summit 2014 was co-hosted by the UK government and UNICEF, and attendees included over 600 campaigners, NGOs, activists, government representatives, civil servants and heads of state. The event marked the moment that the silence surrounding FGM and CEFM was well and truly broken, and done so in front of a global audience. The Girl Summit Charter has been signed by 43 governments and has led to significant change. Existing laws have been enforced; Egypt prosecuted a case following a death associated with FGM and Kenya has seen 30 arrests, and new laws have been created; Nigeria passed a law …

Zero Tolerance: An Interview with Leyla Hussein

Leyla Hussein, an anti-FGM campaigner based in the UK, speaks with a real sense of what is needed to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK. A survivor of the practice, Hussein has spent the last twelve years fighting against the practice. FGM is a practice that has existed for thousands of years and involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of women and girls. Many claim it is ‘cultural’ but it is a deep rooted form of violence. Hussein says, The reason why myself and 140 million women were forced to go through FGM is because we are female. That’s what we’re guilty of. That’s what I’m guilty of. We live in a society scared of vaginas. I fell in love with the attitude towards FGM in Kenya, they call it violence and a vagina, not a cherry, as we do in the UK. They say it as it is. We need to say it as it is. Over the past several years, the movement to end FGM in the …

#UseYourHead To End Gender Based Violence

“Can you hear that sound? Rising from the silence. Take a look around! See the people of the future! Yeah!” The above words were written by extraordinary, dedicated and passionate young people of Integrate Bristol. Integrate Bristol is a youth led charity that works towards equality and integration. For seven years, Integrate Bristol has been at the forefront of the movement to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and all forms of gender based violence. FGM is the deliberate mutilation of the genitalia of women and girls. It is practiced in 28 countries in Africa and in some parts of Asia and the Middle East. Due to immigration, the practice is now prevalent in countries like Australia,  the US and the UK. It is believed that over 135 million women and girls have been affected and in the next decade, 30 million girls are at risk on the African continent alone. Seven years ago, no one in the United Kingdom was discussing the issue of FGM. This changed when in 2007,  Lisa Zimmerman, teacher and Project Manager of Integrate Bristol, took a class of 12 …

Efua Dorkenoo: The Woman Who Never Stopped

I remember the first time I heard about the legendary Efua Dorkenoo. It was 2007 and I was 9 years old, sitting in my back garden in Lagos, Nigeria, clutching my copy of her book “Cutting the Rose: Female Genital Mutilation, The Practice and its Prevention”. I was completely inspired by this brave woman who had chosen to write so poignantly about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). At 9, I ran into the house and went into my bedroom, scrambling around for my black notebook. In my rather poor handwriting, I wrote one word ‘Mama’ and added her to the list of women who inspired me. And for years to come, I would continue to admire and be inspired by this woman who was incredibly beautiful – inside and out. Efua Dorkenoo, OBE, known affectionately to many, as ‘Mama Efua’ was a shining light in the movement to end FGM, dedicating her life to the eradication of the practice. Often referred to as the mother of the end FGM campaign, she fought for …

Breaking the cycle to end gender-based violence

I am one of the lucky ones. Every morning, I wake up excited to attend another day of school. At school, I have an opportunity to learn new things, enjoy my lessons and participate in new activities. We have all heard the phrase, “If you educate a girl, you educate a nation.” Globally, it is estimated that 66 million girls will not have access to an education. Unlike many girls, I have the ability to access my right to education, choose who I marry and will have as many children as I desire. I am one of the lucky ones. Before I was born, my grandmother took a stand for me and future generations. She rejected the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and refused to let her daughter, my mother, go through the practice. FGM is the deliberate mutilation of the genitalia of women and girls for non-medical reasons. This practice has life-long physical, emotional and psychological effects on women and girls. FGM was practiced in my family for generations. When my grandmother was strong enough …