Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Tonight, Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne will be giving a speech tonight (which we will bring you later) and Lynne Featherstone has written an article for the Huffington Post.
She will be taking part in an online discussion here at 12:45pm today.
First she outlined exactly why FGC is a problem.
FGC is a cultural practice involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. In its most extreme form the external genitalia are cut out and the girl’s vagina sewn up, to be cut open on her wedding night and for each birth. It’s commonly done by a village elder or family member – often without anaesthetic or surgical equipment.
The effect can be devastating, causing severe, life-long physical problems and sometimes even death. Yet, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 100 million women – including in the UK – have undergone the practice and an estimated three million girls are at risk each year in Africa alone.
She wrote about how the UK Government is working to end it:
The UK is committed to playing its part in supporting these African efforts to end FGC. We are developing a major new regional programme to support efforts to end the practice in many countries across West and East Africa and beyond. In addition in Sudan, which has one of the highest rates of FGC in the world, we are working on a long term programme to support national efforts to end the practice.
But the scale and the nature of FGC is such that UK government action alone will not be enough. As the Government’s International Champion on Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Overseas I want to see FGC recognised internationally as part of the mainstream development agenda and for other countries and donors to be supporting the elimination of this practice.
You can read the whole article here.
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings