Have you heard of this acronym? In my experience 3-letter acronyms are the preserve of the IT industry, but in this instance they are very glad to give this one a wide berth.
Female Genital Mutilation – three words that should never be present in the same sentence. I always knew this happened in primitive societies but had assumed that being so appalling and completely senseless that it was a rare practice for a poor, unfortunate few living in primitive societies in remote places of the world; after all bad things happen all the time, surely this was just one more rare and appalling example of man’s cruelty.
Skip to February 2014 and a modern civilised society called Great Britain. Seventeen year old Fahma Mohamed launched her campaign to call on Michael Gove, the then Education Secretary, to write to all schools to urge them to protect young girls against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Despite being illegal, over 24,000 girls are estimated to be at risk of FGM in the UK each year.
This was brought to my attention because I subscribe to a service called Change.org. Naturally I readily put my signature to this request. How could this be happening in my beloved country? And in such numbers.
I researched Fahma and her campaign so that I could get a grip on how such monstrous practices could possibly happen here in civilised society. I watched a YouTube clip of her presenting her argument in a tent on Southbank, London. Of course you didn’t see anything, merely the horror on the faces of the people watching the video she provided.
Rather than suggesting you find a video of the practice and watch it for yourself, here is the definition of FGM according to Wikipedia:
“Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of the external female genitalia. FGM is practised by ethnic groups in 27 countries in sub-Saharan and north-east Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia, the Middle East and within immigrant communities elsewhere. It is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser, often with a blade or razor, with or without anaesthesia. The age of the girls varies from weeks after birth to puberty; according to UNICEF, in half the countries for which figures were available in 2013, most girls were cut before the age of five.”
Notice the definition says where it’s practiced in the world. The countries cited are generally below-par education environments, and often regions controlled by hard-line religious sects.
Here’s a little more of what Wikipedia says: “Over 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have undergone FGM. The practice is rooted in gender inequality, ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics, and attempts to control women’s sexuality. It is supported by both women and men in countries that practise it, particularly by women, who see it as a source of honour and authority.”
So what do we have? Purity, modesty and an attempt to control women’s sexuality. You might think it is strange that it is supported by women in these parts but when you consider the women who perform these cutting practices have, themselves, almost certainly had the procedure applied to them as children, performed by someone of whom their mothers approved. As a result it is instilled in the core of their beliefs.
To a Western eye this whole practice appears uncultured and grotesque. While we often chide our youth’s indiscretions (and there are plenty of those to go around), no-one has ever considered this form of repression. People, even if they are lowly women (sarcastic joke), have a right to self-determined actions. We live, we learn and we progress. Society cannot learn and grow by enabling men’s fear of women’s actions through the restraints of FGM.
Coming back to Great Britain (and I am certain this illegal practice happens in all Western countries), how can it be that up to 24,000 girls can be at risk of this practice every year? It is illegal and is classed as grievous bodily harm, punishable by imprisonment. So how come it still takes place without hundreds of people going to prison every year? In the UK we have areas dominated by religious groups who do their best to lay down their law on such communities. Within these ‘closed shops’ other practices outside UK law can and are practiced. This is such a shame and not a little ironic as many of these people ran from their own country of origin to find somewhere they could live without persecution.
It is a sad but true fact that you cannot run far from man-made religion or its persecution. Implementation of the Bible or the Quran or any other religious manuscript allows human weakness to thrive and generally results in interpretations that favour some over others. Even America, ‘Land of The Free’, suffered that when the Pilgrims fled to America only to find a new type of religious persecution had risen among the ranks of the ‘free’. To wit the Salem trials.
I have written previously about the strange attitude in society towards women, and shown that their ‘second class status’ is not just stuff of primitive societies. I cannot reconcile myself to the endemic physical abuse of women in the name of ‘purity’, whatever the hell that even means. I would have thought that purity begins in the mind, and that these male dominated societies ought to look to their own motives before acting against women. After all, which of us does not judge others by our own set of morals and expectations? Maybe if men put more trust in each other they wouldn’t see women as the threat they so obviously do.
I am pleased to announce that the first arrest of a person involved in this hideous practice was arrested coming back into the UK with their female victim. Unfortunately it is likely that the authorities were too late for this 11-year old girl, but we are heading in the right direction at least.
The Guardian Newspaper is also pushing against FGM with this editorial. The more of us that understand what is going on right under our noses, the sooner disgusting and outdated practices such as this will be brought to an end. Please tell people about it, direct them to this blog and get involved! Fahma Mohamed had 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of starting her campaign so there is definitely a general revulsion at this practice. There is need for solidarity against this as it appears that ISIS is pro-FGM and now up to four million women and girls are now at risk in Mosul. Don’t be one of the silent majority!
Zombie books by David K Roberts:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor