Can you help Lynne Featherstone’s campaign to end FGM in a generation?

This Thursday, 6th February, at 11am, Lynne Featherstone’s campaign to end FGM in a generation is hoping to raise awareness of the issue across social media. By means of a clever thing called Thunderclap, you can set up a tweet or Facebook post in advance. When they all go out at the same time they’ll reach millions of people.

Lynne invited people to take part on her own blog:

No woman or girl should ever have to suffer the horrific practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM.) But, in countries like Egypt and Somalia, more than 90% of girls and women over the age of 15 have been cut. Truly shocking statistics.

This has been a taboo for too long – FGM is child abuse and we must help bring the practice to an end.

As a minister for International Development, I have announced a £35million UK Government programme towards this aim, and am doing all I can to raise awareness.

The Department for International Development have launched a Thunderclap in support of ending FGM within a generation.

You can join in this initiative by signing up here.

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14 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Feb '14 - 5:33pm

    I was fully behind this and even getting frustrated that more wasn’t being done about it and a harder line wasn’t being taken, but after seeing how widespread the practice is I’ve become uneasy with the campaign. We just need to make sure we get our facts right because accusing 90% of parents in some countries of mutilating their daughters is a serious accusation. So I think Lester makes a good point about basically not villainising and started a war on other cultures.

    Best wishes

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Feb '14 - 5:37pm

    I still support the campaign, I just want to emphasise the importance of truth and encouraging change from within, rather than kind of being imposed on by the west.

  • When raising this issue amongst friends and acquaintances who enjoy a debate I am often confronted with the same question. ‘If it is okay to mutilate the genitals of boys why is it not okay for girls’? Personally I am fully aware of the difference between the two procedures and I understand that FGM campaigners do not wish to mix the two issues. However all non-medical mutilation of children without their informed consent is wrong and should be treated equally as child abuse. By staying completely silent on one Lynne Featherstone may well undermine, in the public’s eyes, the campaign against the other.

  • Robert: >>all non-medical mutilation of children without their informed consent is wrong and should be treated equally as child abuse
    There may be an intellectual case, Robert, but surely it is a question of degree of harm as well? Personally, as what you would presumably term a ‘victim’ of ‘mutilation’ (in the 1960s, when Dr Benjamin Spock was in vogue, and presumably for reasons of cleanliness and health (quite possibly spurious, but presumably genuinely believed at the time – I have never asked my parents) I would like to state on the record that I have always been rather pleased with the result… 🙂 It has certainly not affected my sex life, though I accept that the counter factual is rather difficult to imagine. But I certainly do not want my parents labelled as child abusers by you! It certainly does NOT equate to FGM, and I know that it annoys the hell out of many anti-FGM campaigners to have people – usually men, unfortunately – raising this point EVERY TIME the subject is mentioned here. I have no Jewish heritage, by the way (at least, not that I am aware of), but have no hesitation in adding ENOUGH ALREADY!! The idea that anti-FGM campaigns are ‘undermined’ by not mentioning male circumcision seems completely ludicrous to me, and one really has to wonder about the motives of those who continually raise the point whenever the issue is raised.
    If you want to campaign against male circumcision that badly, why not research the subject properly and write your own article for LDV?

  • Martin Lowe 4th Feb '14 - 10:23pm

    Perhaps we should start closer to home. Why haven’t there been any prosecutions for FGM in Britain since it was made illegal ten years ago? Are we expected to believe that in this time no British girl has been subjected to this as part of their ‘cultural heritage’?

  • Alex Baldwin 5th Feb '14 - 9:29pm

    Off-topic I know, but regarding the MGM issue, it would be really neat if Kelev Katan (who commented heavily here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-the-male-voice-on-female-genital-mutilation-37953.html#comments) could be persuaded to write a piece for LDV on this as he seems to be an expert on this topic.

    Also I can’t help responding to @GPPurnell who says:
    “It has certainly not affected my sex life, though I accept that the counter factual is rather difficult to imagine.”
    From when I looked into this before I found research concluding that it did have a significant effect on sensitivity. The most interesting result I found was from Sorrells et al. (2007) who claim that the scarred region left after circumcision was the most sensitive area of the circumcised penis, but that this region was still significantly less sensitive than the parts that got cut off in the procedure (by comparison with “intact” males).

  • Alex Baldwin 5th Feb '14 - 9:37pm

    On-topic: I do not know a single person who is okay with FGM, I certainly hope none of them secretly follow me on Twitter. Obviously this is a relatively low-cost initiative, but it seems like the best way to get rid of FGM in the UK (at least) is to focus on finding a way to actually prosecute those responsible.

    I know this campaign extends outside the UK, but I just don’t see much point in “raising awareness”. All of those whom this issue affects are aware of it, and it’s unclear how making unaware people more aware will help get rid of it.

  • The religious aspect needs to be properly addressed. We had a long discussion regarding this aspect on the previous article on FGM. It would be helpful if Lynne could address this aspect, otherwise I doubt that much progress will be made.

  • Martin Lowe 7th Feb '14 - 7:33am

    An answer to my previous question: the reason we have had no prosecutions for FGM in the UK is because certain bodies think it’s an acceptable cultural difference:

    http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/31646627

    So it looks as if we first need to prosecute bodies like Birmingham City Council Social Services for dereliction of duty before we can prosecute people for mutilating their own children.

  • Where in that article does it say Birmingham Social Services consider it an acceptable cultural difference, Martin? As far as I can see, having searched on the page, there is only one reference to Birmingham, and that is about expensive clinics.

  • @ Alex Baldwin – Obviously one bows to the science. They may be right, and obviously I have no way of knowing. I’ve never found it a problem, though! I can only assume that any difference is marginal. (Unlike in FGM. Full marks to Lynne and her campaign! I hope everyone here has signed the petition to Mr Gove? I have.)

  • Martin Lowe 7th Feb '14 - 8:28pm

    @GPPurnell

    The link supplied carries a further link to a document from the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, written in 2010.

    Section 5.6 states:

    Where a child has been identified as being at risk, it may not be appropriate to take steps to remove the girl from an otherwise loving family environment. Experience has shown that often the parents are under pressure from older relatives.

    In other words, the child comes second.

    Also, in section 5.8:

    It is not always appropriate to carry out section 47 enquiries in respect of a girl who has undergone genital mutilation. When the operation has taken place, a criminal offence may have been committed and charges may be brought, but it is likely that there will be no further child protection concerns in respect of the individual child concerned.

    So, if parents successfully impose FGM on their daughter, there is no official impetus for criminal action to be taken against the parents. So they get away with it.

    Quite clearly, family and cultural sensitivities are seen as far more important than criminal behaviour in Birmingham. And I haven’t even looked at the statement from the Greater Manchester “Safeguarding” Partnership yet:
    http://greatermanchesterscb.proceduresonline.com/chapters/p_fgm.html

    http://www.lscbbirmingham.org.uk/images/BSCB17.doc

    I know it might not be considered very liberal, but there are times you need to be forthright to defend liberal values. Want to stop FGM in Britain? Then prosecute families for practicing it. Use joint enterprise laws where necessary to prosecute complicit family members. And when prison sentences have been served, carry out deportations where possible.

    And publicise the whole thing. I guarantee the above actions will save more girls than signing a petition.

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