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International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 6th February

The Documentary Media Centre has hosted a range of International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (6th February) events for the Zinthiya Trust since 2017. The charity provides specialist one-to-one support to prevent domestic abuse, honour-based violence, and FGM, undertaking teaching courses covering healthy relationships and how to recognise the warning signs.

This year, Ashy Adams, one of the key caseworkers for the charity carried out some personal research on the subject for the Parallel Lives Archive and we’ve reproduced that below to aid understanding of this shocking practice. Thanks to Ashy for sharing this with us here at Parallel Lives Network.

FGM Research

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, the health, and the integrity of girls and women.

There are short-term complications of having FGM such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

It is practiced throughout the world but mainly in countries within Africa and the Middle East

Although primarily concentrated in 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, female genital mutilation is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America. Female genital mutilation continues to persist among immigrant populations living in Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Through education and talking about the subject, the prevalence of FGM has declined globally over the last 25 years. Today, a girl is one-third less likely to undergo FGM than 30 years ago. However, sustaining these achievements in the face of humanitarian crises such as disease outbreaks, climate change, armed conflict and more could cause a rollback of progress toward achieving gender equality and the elimination of FGM by 2030.

With eight years remaining in this decade of action, there is potential in eliminating this harmful practice through sustainable partnerships with men and boys. Their voices and actions can transform deeply rooted social and gender norms, allowing girls and women to realize their rights and potential in terms of health, education, income, and equality.

To promote the elimination of female genital mutilation, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed, and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rightsgender equality, sexual education, and attention to the needs of women and girls who suffer from its consequences.

How can we prevent FGM from occurring?

Ultimately, education is the key here however it is also important to hold those to account who are allowing it to happen. The majority of FGM procedures are performed by someone who has no medical background or training, however, sometimes they are carried out by professionals. This creates a barrier for these women subjected to FGM to seek any medical advice after. There are so many health implications for those who have procedures carried out by a non-professional in a non-sterile environment.

FGMPO – female genital mutilation protection orders

These can be issued by UK courts to any woman or girl who has already been a victim of FGM or is a potential victim. Each order is specific to each individual case. Breach of an FGM order can carry a sentence of up 25 years.

The NHS Digital annual report showed that women and girls born in Somalia accounted for more than one third (35 per cent or 875 cases) of newly recorded cases of FGM with a known country of birth (2,504). Of the newly recorded cases, 112 involved women and girls who were born in the United Kingdom.

In 57 cases, FGM was known to have been undertaken in the UK. Where the nature of the UK procedures was known, around 50 were genital piercings.

The 5- to 9-year-old age group was the most common age range at which FGM was undertaken. This equates to 44 per cent (739) of the total number of cases from any country, where the age at the time of undertaking was known (1,673).