First and foremost I want to say a massive thank you to all of you who supported our epetition and helped us reach over 100,000 signatures. The great British public stood with survivors and recognized the importance of this campaign. You have spoken out to say that FGM is child abuse and one of the worst forms of violence against women and you have asked the government to put an end to it.
Although we deserve to celebrate, the real work has just begun. The 100,000 signatures will help us knock on the door of the Houses of Parliament. Many of you kept making the same demand "We need a law against FGM." Breaking news my friends: we've had an act making FGM illegal since 1985 and yet we've still had no prosecutions.
Why? The answer is simple. The UK FGM act expects children to run to the police and sue their parents. To be more specific, if I cut my daughter's finger, she is not expected to give evidence against me because the missing finger is evidence enough. Removing her clitoris on the other hand is an entirely different issue; for me to get prosecuted in this case, my daughter would need to testify against me. The worst part of this is that the FGM act has forced perpetrators to perform FGM to children of an even younger age, to make sure that they will not be able to speak out.
So what do Leyla Hussein and her fellow FGM survivors want from our UK government? I thought you'd never ask! Here's another list for you:
- We need to acknowledge that the FGM act hasn't worked and to use other legislations such as the Child Protection Act and the Offences Against the Person Act.
- Training on FGM must be mandatory for all frontline professionals who work with children and women such as teachers, nurses, GPs, the police and social workers.
- Reporting should be mandatory for all staff in contact with women and children whenever FGM has occurred or whenever there is a suspected risk of FGM.
- All professionals coming across cases of FGM should record them. Recording procedures should be the same for the police, health, social care and education professionals and this information should be shared amongst professionals.
- There should be funding for specialist services for FGM survivors including shelters for those escaping FGM, specialist clinics and therapeutic safe spaces, where the survivors can acknowledge the violence they have experienced and receive emotional support.
- There should be a strong nationwide anti-FGM campaign during holiday periods along the lines of the knife crime campaigns, as this is the time where many girls undergo FGM and a blade is used to mutilate them.
- A strong stance from our government will send a clear message to FGM affected communities and act as a deterrent to anyone considering mutilating their daughters.
Those of you who signed our epetition made us feel part of the British society. You acknowledged the pain many of us endured as children, so I thank you again for all your support. We must now continue with our fight against this vile practice so our collective voices translate into action. Please continue to share this petition and ask your MP to support our demands.
Here's the link to the petition.
If you are not convinced please watch our amazing documentary The Cruel Cut on Channel 4oD, if you need more convincing please do watch my TEDx Talk - yes more fanny talk ladies and gents.