The UN has declared February 6th International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
You can find more information about this day here http://www.un.org/en/events/femalegenitalmutilationday/
Female genital mutilation is a form of violence against women and girls that can cause great harm and suffering, both short-term and long-term.
The Scottish Government has been consulting with stakeholders to see how to strengthen the existing legislative framework to ensure women and girls are protected and prevented from undergoing FGM. You can see some of the preliminary findings here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/strengthening-protection-female-genital-mutilation-fgm/pages/8/
You can find more information and resources regarding FGM at https://www.fgmaware.org/ including a short film called ‘Sara’s Story’.
Jaha Dukureh is a wonderful campaigner who is from The Gambia, and who campaigned alongside many others to make FGM illegal there. It was banned in 2015. In this article below, she says “Respect is what has been lacking for years when tackling FGM.” https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/jaha-dukureh-don-sensationalise-fgm-survivors-180204114924441.html
This resonates with a message I heard when I interviewed a campaigner based here in Scotland. Diare is a project worker at Dundee International Women’s Centre (www.diwc.co.uk), and she is also a community champion with KWISA (https://www.kwisa.org.uk/) .
Here is an extract from an interview she gave:
“Working to raise awareness of harmful practices such as FGM and forced marriage within African communities and with professionals, I feel education is the key to highlighting the harmful nature of different abuses women and girls encounter. We need to ensure everyone – boys and girls, men and women – know what happens regarding these harmful practices, and understands why they cause damage to those affected within the community, especially women and girls.
We need to be aware of different narratives instead of focusing on one single ‘truth’ in order to have the whole picture.
Violence against women happens in all communities, in different manifestations. Perceptions of certain communities can be affected by how we cover these stories. While we must condemn all forms of violence against women and girls, we can also celebrate the achievements and efforts of community members who are leading inspiring lives, and who are speaking out against harmful practices.”
It’s so important to keep raising awareness, while also respecting those affected by the issues we are speaking about.
Above all, the voices of survivors need to be centered. When people hear their stories, they are moved to change society.
By Sara McHaffie (VAWG Development Officer)