If an African girl wanted FGM we would be outraged, and rightly so. Why would we cut girls to control their sexuality and satisfy men? We can all agree on this. Yet when a girl from a non-FGM practicing community wants to be cut, trimmed or tucked we're told it's her choice. Aren't both examples of cultural coercion? Are we saying one happens to adults and the other to children? To some extend, that's true. But there are nine-year old girls, accompanied by their mothers, asking for cosmetic surgery on the NHS. Girls with normal genitals. Confused? Me too.
In my late teens I was keen to get out of my mum's house ASAP, which meant spending several years living in dingy basement flats and warehouses with no hot water. At times it was a bit grim but it's all part of growing up and it taught me a lot. For me - now I'm living somewhere less squatter-chic - I've learnt to create an illusion of space.
It is a little known fact that during his 27 years of imprisonment Nelson Mandela studied a law degree as a distance learning student with the University of London. Although none, as far as I am aware, of the many prisoner distance learners we funded have become a president; thousands have used the opportunity of education in prison to change for the better.
Currently suffering their poorest start to a Premier League season on record, it's fair to say that even those who criticised the managerial appointment of David Moyes (and there were plenty of them) wouldn't have predicted United would be languishing in ninth position with more than a third of the season gone.
It's time ladies and gentlemen to all join ranks and fight puppy farming so that every single one of us is proudly part of positive change for animal welfare, and the world will be reminded once again of the nation of animal lovers we proudly once were before we preferred to exploit them by painful greed and unnecessary suffering.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2013/14 has begun! We're now 48 hours into the race and we're lying in third place so far. Its early days but we've had a good start and above all, it's an amazing feeling to finally be out in the Atlantic after two years of preparation and training.
The countdown to Christmas has begun and we'll be bringing you a new upload every festive day until the big one - that's 25 December in case you were unsure. Jamie kicked off the show with a perfect party dish - crispy fried squid - and Food Tube fans have already been feasting their eyes on some tasty Christmas delights including Gennaro Contaldo's bruschetta...
Our new research revealed that a higher proportion of the UK give money to charity than in any other country in the developed world. The World Giving Index ranks 135 countries on their generosity and allows us to compare the giving environments of nations across the world.
Nicola Cortese's methods have proved highly successful and after a double promotion, Southampton now find themselves flying high in the Premier League. Why? Unlike others in the Premier League, he is highly knowledgeable of the game and puts football before business.
Despite nearly a decade at the other end of the phone, I have never seen the helpline as busy as it is now, and it's picking up every day. We're open seven days a week, 365 days a year, and from morning until night, the phones ring constantly - without fail.
The Christmas market originated in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol and Alsace, but has now spread throughout Europe to become a popular tradition. Generally opened around four weeks before Christmas, the 'Christkindlmarkt' celebrates everything about the holiday season and is guaranteed to evoke a festive spirit in visitors.
Through the study of epigenetics, scientists have identified a clear difference in the genetic expression of individuals who had been abused, and in doing so they are helping to illuminate the process by which childhood trauma can alter an individual's development.
The knives are out for the shadow chancellor. Again. But to call for him to be sacked on the basis of a single, bad Commons performance is absurd. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is Ed Balls, not George Osborne, who has been vindicated on the economy.
Young people surviving in the ghettoes of Britain are at the receiving end of humiliating insults from politicians. The Prime Minister, with the best of intentions, advocates for people of any community to rise to the top - in the media, judiciary, armed services and politics. He suggests that aspirations "need to be raised". Simultaneously, the Mayor of London says that 16% "of our species" has an IQ below 85, and 2% of the population have an IQ above 130. He goes on to conclude that inequality is essential "for the spirit of envy and a valuable spur to economic activity... The income gap between the top cornflakes and the bottom cornflakes is getting wider than ever". But between the lines, he is suggesting that those with higher IQs - and sometimes higher greed - will invariably achieve greater things, and that is just the way it is.
We haven't, until now, designated a particular time of the year to celebrate all that small businesses give to our communities... We'll be using Saturday 7 December - one of the busiest shopping days in the calendar to encourage people to spend their Christmas shopping money locally, not only boosting the local economy but saving on transport costs too.
At the moment, Rebecca Adlington is in the jungle but the reception she has got is a good show of the pressure athletes are under. Where the male athletes have women drooling over their six packs, I feel as a female athlete, you are constantly being judged on your body.
See you later Black Friday! So long Cyber Monday! Today is Crap Friday. It is the day that all the things you ordered on Cyber Monday are due to arrive at your home or are ready for collection in store.
Over two decades after his "walk to freedom", Nelson Mandela has walked his final mile. The impact of his death will reach far beyond the frontiers of South Africa. There will be tears, but celebration for one of the most remarkable lives of our time. Madiba, as he was fondly known, leaves us with a memory of the best in public life to which any human can aspire. His signal contribution to humankind, the embrace and sustaining of forgiveness for his own, and for his people's oppression.
The Turner Prize is important because it keeps the art world, the cultural scene awake. Yes. its atmosphere can be too full of art 'luvvies' and 'mavens' and the 'usual suspects' but they're easier to get rid of than the idea - and need - that art and culture matter. They do. They are what we are.
What Laure Prouvost's installation entitled: 'Wantee' (punters put a sum total of £22 on her chances of winning, according to Ladbrokes ) demonstrates, too, is that big, bad Mighty London with its critics/punters/experts/buyers doesn't always get it right.
The critics of austerity have been proved right. The OBR confirm today what we already knew - the recovery is at least two years behind schedule. The Chancellor has failed to meet the objective he set of a rebalanced economy growing enough through exports and investment to close the deficit by the time of the next election.
Universal Credit is the government's flagship welfare reform. It has become a fiasco. Ministers failed at the outset to grasp the scale of it. Now the prime minister has failed to get a grip, or even to resolve the dispute between his Ministers. Rescuing the project is going to be tough. Thursday's development gives no hint that the current administration is up to the task.
I was sold for sex from a very early age by the adults in my life, I didn't want or like what they did but I was powerless to stop them, I couldn't comprehend any of the long-term lifelong problems it would cause... I just knew it was bad, horrible and I wanted it to stop...