Writing the FGM course... a stark reality

Writing the FGM course... a stark reality

Posted on Apr 16, 2015
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When I first heard the term Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM, I had little to no real understanding of what this actually meant, what the reality of this practice involved, and the number of women worldwide that have been affected by such a life-altering procedure.

I was ignorant to the suffering that women and children undergo in the name of tradition, social acceptance and status.

A world away from my experience of ‘acceptance’ into a community; the day I was confirmed, where I wore a pretty white dress and attended a ceremony with all of my friends from school. Afterwards, I went for a big meal with all of my family to celebrate. These girls have their day of celebration with their family and communities, a party is held in their honour, and after the celebration, they are mutilated. All in the name of tradition.

Researching the practice in depth in order to write the course opened my eyes to the reality of this issue, the types of FGM that are practiced, and its secretive nature. The children that are mutilated rarely know it’s going to happen to them until they are having the procedure done. They are being betrayed by the people that are supposed to love them and protect them against any form of harm.

Female Genital Mutilation is not condoned in any holy literature, so I can’t help but ask myself why it is practiced?

Learning that a person with no medical background performed surgeries on girls terrified me. These surgeries are performed in unsterile places, without anaesthetic or pain relief and without correct surgeon’s tools. Imagine your mum’s best friend popping round for a cup of tea and to perform a surgery on you using what she could find in the kitchen. This is the reality of FGM.

The hardest part for me was to learn that a mother that has been through this trauma herself, and never really got over the emotional or physical pain of the procedure, then has her own daughters 'circumcised' to ensure her children aren't ostracized by the community. If FGM is not carried out, you will be seen as dirty, un-pure, and untouchable. The idea that to be deemed as ‘pure’ I must be mutilated forever and will face severe consequences throughout my life is something I cannot begin to comprehend. The strength these women must have to survive not only the procedure, but the emotional aftermath is unbelievable.

Trying to imagine what I might do in the same situation, being forced to choose between a procedure for acceptance, or keeping my children safe and free from harm. This is a heavy burden for any parent to face.

Raising awareness of this practice is something that we must all stand up for. Cultural practices and traditions must not be at the expense of a person’s wellbeing. They should be celebrated for a reason and I for one, can see no reason to let this continue.

For information on flick's FGM Training please click here.

 

If you are worried that you or someone you know might be at risk of FGM or may be taken abroad for FGM please contact the Metropolitan Police (Project Azure – FGM) Helpline on: 0207 161 2888.

 

If you are worried that a child may be at risk of FGM, you can contact NSPCC 24 hour helpline anonymously on: 0800 028 3550 or email them on fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

 

For more information on FGM and for alternative helplines please click here.

 

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