The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation falls on the 6th February, sponsored by the UN with the aim of raising awareness and eliminating the practice throughout the world.
Female Genital Mutilation – often abbreviated to FGM – is defined by the World Health Organisation as encompassing all ‘procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.
Who is at risk of FGM?
According to Unicef, cases of FGM are concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The majority of FGM procedures are carried out on girls aged between 0 and 15, carrying both immediate acute health risks and potential longer term physical and psychological issues including infertility and childbirth complications.
The charity FORWARD estimates that 60,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK, and that 137,000 girls and women in the UK are survivors of an FGM procedure.
Female Genital Mutilation is illegal in the UK and is a high priority safeguarding issue. It’s also illegal for UK nationals or permanent residents to take a child abroad to undergo FGM. In October 2015, new legislation was introduced in England and Wales making it mandatory for health and social care professionals to report cases in children.
An FGM survivor’s story
Sarian Karim Kamara is a leading FGM campaigner and a survivor herself. Watch her tell her own story, and explain the long term effects that being cut has had on her life, below.
Warning signs, and identifying potential victims of FGM
Dr Sharon Raymond is a GP and author of Female Genital Mutilation: a handbook for professionals working in health, education, social care and the police.
In this video she discusses ways that professionals might be able to identify girls and women who may be at risk of FGM or who have undergone the practice.
Education and awareness for children and young people
Ifrah Mohammed and Muna Hassan are activists and peer mentors with IntegrateBristol.
In this final video, they discuss how the topic of female genital mutilation can incorporated into the PHSE syllabus and working with primary and secondary age pupils to build awareness.
FGM further reading
An interview with Dr Sharon Raymond about FGM: the belief system that perpetuates the practice, ways that health professionals can help to eradicate it, and where survivors can find support.
Check out the #EndFGM hashtag on Twitter to find out what others are saying and to add your voice.