Monday, 10 June 2013

Violence against Women: Strategy and Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is recognised internationally as a clear form of violence against women and girls. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is not necessarily an offence committed by men on women, as women also commit the offence. However, it is regularly carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. However it is also performed to control the sexuality of women. Furthermore some of the people who have gone through FGM tend to be also psychologically affected and therefore easy for men to control. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

FGM prosecutions should therefore be addressed within an overall framework of violence against women and an overall human rights framework. Where appropriate, prosecutors should make links with other topics such as domestic violence, rape and sexual offences, honour crimes, forced marriage, child abuse, crimes against the older person, pornography, human trafficking and prostitution.

Prosecutors should recognise the diversity of victims. People tend to paint the victims with one brush. What might work in one case would not be applicable to all victims. Victims' experiences of FGM are undoubtedly affected by identities distinct from gender, like their ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, immigration status and religion or belief as well as country of origin. Each victim's individual experiences of violence will be different, and some victims may encounter additional barriers to accessing justice. For example, a young woman forced into agreeing to these procedures may find it difficult to report domestic violence because she fears she will not be taken seriously as a result of her age. The safety and needs of each victim should be assessed on an individual basis.

Charging in Female Genital Mutilation cases

The prosecution of FGM cases should be considered serious. This practice causes serious harm and, as a result, the FGM Act increased the maximum penalty from 5 to 14 years' imprisonment but there have not been any prosecutions.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act (the Act) makes it clear that it is an offence for anyone (regardless of their nationality and residence status) to perform FGM in the UK, or to assist a girl to perform FGM on herself in the UK. Provided that the mutilation takes place in the UK, the nationality or residence status of the victim is irrelevant. But surely how about those people with UK residence status, who take their children back to the countries of origin in summer and have them cut? And if someone does cut girls in the UK  for example in long summer school holidays, how is it going to come out? In the diaspora, people tend to protect each other to avoid being isolated and even victimised, therefore there is need to offer support and shelter to those who speak out. There is need to spread the message that those who testify will not be alone and can even get protected.

However, there may be circumstances when the nationality of residence of the victim is relevant and it may be difficult to apply the Act. Prosecutors should remember that in cases where it is not possible to apply the Act, they should consider the full ambit of charging. Assault, conspiracy and child cruelty are just some example of charges that can arise in these circumstances.

Prosecutors should be aware, when dealing with a case of FGM that the victim may not just be a victim of FGM. The victim may also have been subjected to rape and other sexual offences, or may have been subject to a forced marriage. The victim may be under 18, and may also be a victim of ill treatment.

If there is no direct evidence specifically for FGM, then surely, perpetrators of this horrific crime should be charged on other crimes like Child cruelty, etc

Please prosecutors do not let these girls down!

Have a look at ‘A lost Youth’-, a book on Female Genital Mutilation which can be found on Amazon.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Female Genital Mutilation and the dangers of Stereotyping

I've often noticed how we continuously misunderstand each other as people. Non- white people in particular, often feel as though they have to explain themselves to their fellow white brothers and sisters and white people on the other hand would always want to prove to know more than a black person

Being the model citizen I am, I have put together a little guide which should help. Feel free to e-mail or tweet me with your suggestions too. (Bigots, racists and homophobes need not bother).


1. Let's just get this out of the way right now. Yes, non white people wash their hair. Do I hear you ask how often? As often as any other race: every day for some, twice a week for others, once a month for others. Get the picture? Great. Let's consider the matter buried then.

2. Criminals scare us, too. We don't feel comforted by the fact that someone who's the same race as us is robbing us. Crime is crime. So sit down and think before insulting or painting people with the same brush. Criminals, exist in every race.

3. "You speak English so well" is something you say to a two-year-old who's just learned how to talk. No matter how well you mean it, stay away from that phrase - it makes you sound like a WASP berk. Speaking of language, until the day you can say English words properly, you will hear ‘’sorry I don’t understand’’ You wouldn't do that if the person was French or Italian - you'd think it's cute.

4. If you have to say: "My black friend Lucy", then you have a problem. We will automatically put you in the same box as closet racists. Sorry, I meant to say uptight liberals.

5. None of us represent the entire black race, so blanketed enquiries about why black people do this or that won't get you anywhere. We're individuals first before we are black. In addition, Africa is a continent not a country like some people think.

6. There isn't enough space in this column to express how intensely it bothers us when you grin when you make eye contact with a non- white person especially after there has been something bad on the news about people from the same race. It makes us feel like you're afraid we'll take your wallet or have a bullet in your head.  Every race has good and bad people. Nothing to do with skin colour! Next time you make eye contact with a colleague or stranger, either walk past or say "hello’’ Just don't grin. It's not warm, it's fake.

7. We can swim. Oh come, don't act like you weren't thinking about it. Some of us can even scuba dive and snorkel.

8. Talking slowly as if to a deaf person- ‘’Do ---you---speak---Eng..l..ish? It does annoy considering that speaking a language has nothing to do with skin colour

The dangers of stereotyping, huh?
In my campaign against FGM I have heard people saying,
''O why bother,let them continue with their barbaric practices,it has nothing to do with us''
Please have empathy. Violence is violence ,it has no boundaries. 'Remember the solution in ending this horiffic parctice is not a one size suits all solution'  Each country is different and any campaign should be tailor made for  the individula country.
And of course I am not stereotyping. I appreciate the work being done out there and well done. No to FGM!




Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The role of Men and Women in eliminating female genital mutilation

I know I have said this many times but I will not be stop saying it, because I believe men from both FGM and non FGM practising communities can make a big difference.

To start with men from FGM practising communities tend to be the ones in control of their families. Their word goes. While this is less often the case in Europe it is important to understand that women are still economically dependent on their husbands all over the world, and would not want to risk the possible consequences of refusing to conform, even to the demands of such appalling traditions.

Since, in some of these communities, one of the reasons for the continuation of FGM is to control women sexually, there is a need to raise male awareness in ways that are tangible to them .What man would want his daughter to be married as a virgin if he fully understood how her virginity had been preserved?

It is also important to remember that chastity is still something some of the patriarchal communities cherish and men might therefore be conditioned into the idea that a virgin wife is rightly theirs(  if infibulations or other forms of FGM will ensure this, then so be it.) So changing the mindsets is necessary.

As I said before FGM has nothing to do with culture, but the beliefs and practices that spring from male perceptions of how they should expect a woman to be. For many women however, getting married and keeping the marriage is the key to survival even if it means going against their better judgement. So by consenting to the mutilation of their children, they think they are helping them towards a better future with a man to provide for them in adult life. The tragedy perpetuates itself.

Both men and women need to change their mindset together.

Some women have actually been mutilated after getting married because their husbands wished so and because of the pressure from the communities they live in.

This is child abuse and its time girls and boys, men and women know the truth of this horrific practice. As child abuse, more prosecutions are needed but we can only get them if people know what FGM is and I don’t think the media is doing enough to educate its readers viewers and listeners.

For more information have a look at the book below,