| || |
Today UK government will be hosting the Girl Summit with UNICEF. The summit is focusing on ending female genital mutilation, as well as early and forced marriage. According to UNICEF statistics over 125 million women and girls today - not ever, now, today - have been cut. UNICEF fears that if current trends continue "as many as 30 million girls are at risk of being cut before their 15th birthday. This summit is intending to galvanise a global effort to end "child, early and forced marriage and FGM for all girls within a generation" thereby promoting education, freedom and safety for more women and girls in the future.
There has been a fear, voiced by some feminists et al, that a ban on FGM or opposing the practice is interfering with culture. It has been argued - when freedom is brought into it, that we are denying the freedom to practice a cultural tradition. In 1999 the Commons International Development Select Committee said Germaine Greer's comments on FGM were "simplistic and offensive". Greer had said that any ban on FGM was "an attack on cultural identity...One man's beautification is another man's mutilation." The CIDSC said Greer had a "misplaced sense of the sanctity of culture". According toUNICEF in 19 of the 29 countries that practised most women and girls want it to end.
In the video as well as people discussing what freedom is to them, women and girls talk about their experiences of being cut, of being forced into marriage, of not having a voice. Does that sound like a part of culture we should preserve?
We might feel concern for these things but also they seem very far away, maybe we should, like, sign an online petition or something?
We might feel concern for these things but also they seem very far away, maybe we should, like, sign an online petition or something? In fact, perhaps it seems strange that it is being held by the UK Government and not...far away. However: "In the UK, hundreds of girls risk being forced into marriage, violating their human rights. Forced marriage victims can suffer physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse."
As it happens there is also a petition you can sign, the Girls Summit invites you to take the pledge and end FGM/C in a generation. It's in the news that extra training is to be given to teachers, doctors and social workers to be more aware of FGM and how to identify and assist girls at risk and tomorrow's front pages will tell of Cameron's pledge that parents who allow FGM will be prosecuted. Last month (only last month, does that seem obscene to anybody else?) the government made forced marriage a crime - perpetrators risk seven years in prison.
A generation is not fast enough. We have taken too long to move on this. And what's shameful is that we have had the freedom to do so for generations.