LibLink: Lynne Featherstone on successes in campaign against FGM

Lynne featherstone by paul walterOver on Huffington Post, Lynne Featherstone has written an article about the heartening early successes in the campaign against female genital mutilation. She writes:

“I wanted to save lives not put them at risk.”

That’s what a former female genital cutter told me during a visit to Kenya last week, as she explained why she downed her tools and instead became a birth attendant.

I believe this woman should be celebrated for taking such a brave stance against the centuries-old tradition of female genital mutilation (FGM).

And she’s not alone. In her home of Meru, Kenya there are now hundreds of women who deserve the same praise for abandoning the practice of FGM in their small community.

Kenya took the vital step of making female genital mutilation illegal in 2011 – also known as female genital cutting – but it is not just the laws or the threat of punishment that has brought about this amazing change.

It is the simple truth that has persuaded these women that there is no benefit to harming your daughter’s body. As one mother told me: “FGM does not make a woman strong – it makes her weak. Why would we defile our bodies?”

The community that has defied the old traditions has introduced an alternative, positive rite of passage for 13 year old girls to mark their transition to womanhood.  It has reduced FGM from 27% to 7%.

The UK is getting behind these efforts to make sure this unprecedented opportunity to end FGM isn’t missed. Our £35million fund will help communities across Africa get the support they need to reject this barbaric practice.

You can read the full article here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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