Ahead of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM this Saturday, Nazzy Amin, a returned volunteer on the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme with Restless Development Nepal in 2013, tells us why it’s so important we care about this three letter acronym.
FGM. This three letter acronym means Female Genital Mutilation and is probably something we as young people either don’t fully understand or would rather brush aside as we have more important things to worry about (e.g. our next weekly catch-up with a friend)
So in tackling the obstacle of not understanding this larger-than-life issue, lets break is down. The World Health Organisation defines FGM as being “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” In other words, parts of a female’s vagina are either being cut off totally or cut in parts to then be stitched up in the attempt of narrowing the vaginal opening ( Ouch!).
This ritual is performed in 29 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East. It is simply justified by the notion that it will reduce a girl/women’s sexual desire which in turn will lessen the temptation of having extra-marital sex. How do we fit this into to our 21st century, open-minded mentality? But more importantly how can such a horrendous act be justified when it is a clear violation of human rights? There is an endless list of side effects from risk of problems during child birth ( if one survives the severe pain and bleeding during the procedure) to long-term health implications or even death in the worst case scenario. Does a young girl in this day and age deserve this kind of mutilation derived from a cultural tradition that makes absolutely no practical sense?
Now you may still think you would rather care about that meal with friends because I do not come from that kind of background or culture and live in a developed country, so this issue will not affect me in any shape or form. However, this is kind of thinking is wrong. Statistics show that 60,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK and this figure is increasing… 137,000 girls and women are known to be living with the consequences of FGM in the UK!
So yes, this is an issue that is not a very pleasant topic of discussion and as a young person you may not have the time to advocate for all those girls/women who at risk. However you can play your part but doing some very small things to show that you do care:
- You can read more about FGM online and share it with your friends on social media to raise awareness. Why not do this on 6th February, which marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, attending an event on that day to get a better understanding of the issue
- You can go a step further and start discussions rolling in your school, universities or local centres about the issue to get more young people engaged.
- You can even join the national and global campaigns to #EndFGM with organisations like Youth for Change, Integrate Bristol, or Forward-UK helping survivors, whilst empowering the young women to stand up against this crime.
Female Genital Mutilation is a three letter word that needs to be bought to the forefront in order to eradicate it, and the start of this eradication begins by showing you genuinely care.