All posts tagged: Female genital mutilation

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 …

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 …

Remembering America’s Lost Women

Growing up in Pakistan, I was a rule breaker. I got in trouble for speaking my mind and making my own choices, two things good Pakistani women were not supposed to do. Until I broke a rule that could not be fixed or overlooked, falling in love with a Shia man, though I came from a Sunni home. In Pakistan, our families were at war, so we went to Canada. North America was my safe haven, a place I could make my life choices without fearing shame and violence. America afforded me an escape from the fear of honor violence, the abuse thousands of women around the world experience for bringing dishonor to their families. This violence can take the form of physical, emotional or sexual assault, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. America was my safe haven, but, unbeknownst to many, it is not safe for everyone. Honor violence is not a problem relegated to countries like Pakistan; every year, thousands of girls in North America experience honor violence and even lose their lives …

There is No Place for FGM

Friday, February 6 was International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Over 140 million women and girls alive today have undergone some form of FGM, also known as Female Genital Cutting (FGC). FGM results in many health-related and life threatening complications for the women who are forced to undergo this practice. Facts: FGM is not a religious obligation or requirement. FGM is primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, but it is also carried out in Asia and Latin America. The problem is also persistent in Western countries among immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 6,000 girls undergo FGM around the world every day. If current trends continue, about 86 million additional girls worldwide will be subjected to FGM by 2030. “Each new generation of girls is born with the right to live as a full human being with control over her own body. By irreversibly damaging them in this way, we cripple and stunt …

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 …

Gender Equality: Are we nearly there yet?

Written by Caroline Plenty Did you know the highest female representation in government is 56 percent and in the UK only 22.5 percent of MPs are women? The only country with more women than men in government (56 percent) is Rwanda? Or in Kenya teenage girls are 3 times more likely to be HIV positive than boys? That is how I started a blog I wrote a year ago for Irise International. In the past year I’ve been frequently told that gender inequality no longer exists and therefore there is no need for feminism today. But have things really changed that much in the past year? In my opinion the short answer is some things have – but not enough. My long answer is the rest of this blog. So what has changed? The female representation in Rwandan Government has continued to increase to 64 percent, yet bar Rwanda and Andorra, all other governments are made up of more men than women. In 38 governments worldwide, women make up less than 10 percent of elected officials. That does …

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 …

Vagina is not a bad word

Yes, I said it. Vagina. People often think vagina is a bad word. It is not. Half of the world have vaginas, and the other half have penises. I cannot understand why we avoid talking about vaginas. When I am spending time with friends and I mention the word vagina they say, “June, stop! People can hear us!” It puzzles me how people can not deal with saying ‘vagina’. Ok, maybe I’ve said the word vagina too many times, but you get the point. When I talk about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), I often begin by saying that we are going to have a conversation about vaginas, fannies and muffs. FGM is the partial or total removal of a woman’s genitals for non-medical reasons and has life-long consequences on women and girls. FGM breaches at least 5 human rights of women and girls, and takes away a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. In these cases, someone else has control over their vagina. On 22 July, the UK government hosted the Girl Summit, a …