Today is the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a cultural practice which sees (usually) young girls being sexually mutilated in order to comply with tradition. FGM is a worldwide practice, albeit one largely concentrated in the Middle East and Africa. It spans religions, with both Christians and Muslim girls suffering as a result of it, and has been widely condemned by leading religious scholars, though other influential ones (including a cleric feted by the then mayor of London Ken Livingstone), continue to endorse it.
FGM even occurs in Britain: investigations by the Daily Mail and Observer (amongst others) revealed that tens of thousands of girls living in this country have either undergone the procedure or at risk from it, mostly those from African/Middle Eastern backgrounds. There is legislation to deal with it in this country, but, given the difficulties of securing a conviction, it has so far proved ineffective, wih no prosecutions taking place. In other areas of the world the signs are more encouraging though:
There is a programme now running in 12 out of 17 priority African countries and it has seen real results. We have seen prevalence rates fall from 80% to 74% in Ethiopia, in Kenya from 32% to 27% and in Egypt from 97% to 91%. But there is still a long way to go.
The success behind the recent figures lies in the collective abandonment of FGM/C. There is now a culturally sensitive approach, based on dialogue and social networking, which leads to abandonment within one generation. Because the programme is anchored in human rights, it allows participants to understand better the choices they are making.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence