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FGM-iimageImage: Hilary Burrage

By Hilary Burrage. February 2013

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a cruel legacy of patriarchal societies and traditions stretching back over millennia. Yet still it occurs, even in Britain and the developed world: in the UK over 20,000 girls are thought to be at high risk or victims annually.
To mark today, 6 February – the tenth annual International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day – I have created a Stop FGM Page for this website. I also attach below (draft) model resolution-proposalswhich you may like to consider and/or adapt to take forward yourself.

Information on what FGM entails and what its consequences can be found here.  It is a complex and life-threatening custom which will require multiple approaches at many levels before it can be finally eradicated.

Zero Tolerance of FGM
February 6th 2013 was International Zero Tolerance to FGM Day, the tenth such annual occasion, promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and (especially important, following their unanimous agreement on 21 December 2012 to achieve a global ban on FGM) the United Nations.

As various major activists insist, we can all play a part, however small, in helping the process towards the realisation of  No FGM.

In this spirit I have created a permanent Page on my website, with general details of how you can support, or become more involved in, the movement to halt the enduring blight of FGM on girls and women directly, and on their communities.

Also below in this post is a proposal-resolution [1] which you may like to support in situ.

You may also like to adapt for use in your own spheres of influence – political, community or organisational – the draft motion attached at the end of this post [2].

[1] Resolution-proposal to Stop FGM in Britain

Full text of NoFGM motion for circulation, if you would like to, to interested parties.  It would be very helpful if people could please add supportive comment and ‘vote’ for this.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) – sometimes called ‘Cutting’*

– posted on the Labour Party proposed policies website on FGM Zero Tolerance Day (6 Feb. 2013)

We urge the Labour Party as a matter of urgency

 [1] to secure the safety of babies, girls and women at risk of FGM in the UK;

[2] to secure immediate attention to the needs of those girls and women in the UK who have already been subject to FGM;

[3] to ensure that all legal provisions are applied in full to those who have already practised or procured this cruel act of abuse.

Explanatory text (to follow above proposal):

Female genital mutilation is a vile act of abuse perpetrated on young girls, and sometimes women. It arises in a number of forms but is always dangerous to health and future well-being, and is sometimes lethal.

This traditional practice is fundamentally based on patriarchy and the subjugation of females.  Amongst its harmful effects are these.

The World Health Organisation has condemned FGM for many years, and it has now been unanimously rejected also by a Memorandum of the United Nations; yet still in Britain it is thought that well over 20,000 girls and young women are at risk every year, and that over 80,00 women living in the UK have FGM. (ref: FORWARD report)

FGM has been illegal in the UK for decades, and the last legal loophole (taking children abroad for a ‘holiday’ to be subjected to FGM) was closed in 2003. Extraordinarily, however, not one single person in the UK from the literally hundreds of thousands who may be culpable has ever been brought to justice.

In the meantime, the Coalition Government abolished the post of (No)FGM Coordinator which Labour had created only a year or so before. Since then some progress has been made in respect of the Crown Prosecution Service, but NoFGM strategies remain woeful – simply ‘advice’ on Government websites in most instances.

Perhaps 50 girls and babies are at risk of, or experience, FGM every single day in Britain. This appalling child abuse statistic is a blight on British civic society, and a blight also on the lives forever-after of the children who undergo FGM.

We need to ascertain very clearly and soon the real extent of FGM in the UK, as a baseline for action.

There are a number of MPs and lobbyists who are already seeking to STOP #FGM as a matter of great urgency; but far too many of us still prefer to ignore this shameful aspect of British life.

FGM was raised (by HB) at the Labour Party Women’s Conference in September 2012, and has also subsequently been raised and followed through by, e.g. Islington South and Finsbury, and Liverpool Riverside, CLPs. [Now also Hackney CLP]

It is essential that the Labour party now acknowledges the huge damage which FGM inflicts every year on thousands of children in the UK, and that no further prevarication on action is permitted.

Some possible approaches are proposed here, but through-going consideration of national strategy, bringing together meaningfully and cohesively all involved parties, is a priority – as is determined leadership nationally. The Labour Party must tolerate this abuse of children in Britain no longer.

Hilary Burrage (Liverpool Riverside CLP) & Anna Burrage (Islington South & Finsbury CLP)

Example CLP Resolution (Islington South & Finsbury) – attached document (below)

·         Download document: Female Genital Mutilation (attached to text above)

* Explanatory text on Your Britain website, in Your Britain: Education and Children Policy Commission [- a Labour Party website ]     NB: If you click on the second link immediately above you only get the italicised intro paragraph; if you click on the first link, you see simply the explanatory text which follows it; so no full info on either link….


Take Action

Petitions

Please sign HM Government e-petition, No. 35313, to STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain  (for UK citizens and residents).

There is also an e-petition for everyone, everywhere to sign: UK Government: Enforce the UK law which forbids FGM (Female Genital so-called 'Cutting').

Twitter

The #NoFGM Daily News, a free, no-obligation on-line resource, carries reports of all items shared on Twitter that day about FGM – brings many organisations and developments into focus. To be included automatically in the next day’s edition please ensure you add the tag ‘FGM’ in your post.

Follow in Twitter: @NoFGM1 and our tag is #NoFGM.

Facebook

Facebook page: #NoFGM – a crime against humanity 

Resources

Website: NoFGM (UK).  

You can also find out more here:  #NoFGM: A Listing For [UK] Action & References On Female Genital Mutilation  - a collated (and growing) list of organisations and reports for those who want to find the major aspects of the issue in one place. 

For more on this topic please see here.


 

hilary-burrageHilary Burrage is a researcher, freelance sociologist, writer and lobbyist and is currently writing a book about eradicating FGM in the UK.

Previously a college Senior Lecturer, Hilary now owns a consultancy focusing on social policy issues. She is also Executive Chair of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation.