Campaigning against FGM can be dangerous work, at least in the UK.
The Guardian has spoken to women who have received death threats, been publicly assaulted and who have had to move house after speaking out about FGM, which involves cutting away some or all of a girl’s external genitalia and can include sewing up the vagina. It is mostly carried out on girls some time between infancy and the age of 15.
Nimko Ali, a 29-year-old British-Somalian, was taken to Somalia for the procedure when she was seven. “I never told anyone I had FGM, not even my best friend, because I saw what happened to women in the UK who did speak out and saw it as a warning sign,” said Ali, who has set up a group called Daughters of Eve to campaign against the procedure.
“I only decided to go public very recently after seeing other girls put themselves in danger by speaking out. The weeks afterwards were the most horrifying of my life. I lost friends – one even offered to kill me for £500.”
One wonders why. What is so important about destroying girls’ genitalia that opposing the practice is seen as a capital crime? Because girls and women with intact genitalia=total whoredom everywhere and that’s the worst possible thing?
I don’t know. It’s all the same shit, isn’t it. Ropes and chains on Semour Avenue, or girls’ genitalia sliced off like so much grapfruit rind.
FGM is not condoned by any religion. It is illegal in the UK to carry out the procedure, take a British citizen abroad to have the operation, or assist in carrying out FGM abroad, whether or not it is against the law in that country.
What does the Guardian think “FGM is not condoned by any religion” means? There are some clerics who say don’t do it, but there are others who say do it. There are some Islamic clerics who say it is mandatory. They’re not the majority, I think, but they certainly exist.
Efua Dorkenoo, a director at Equality Now, regularly receives death threats aimed at stopping her campaigns against FGM. “I’m told my offence in speaking out is greater than that of Salman Rushdie and that I should die,” she said.
That certainly seems to hint that some adherents of one religion not only “condone” FGM but try to enforce it with threats. So what does the Guardian think “FGM is not condoned by any religion” means?
Dorkenoo says the backlash against women who speak out is getting more extreme. “It’s getting worse for young girls because social media means they can be threatened and harassed by people outside of their community, including by family members back in Africa who are told what they’re doing.”
Groan. Social media turn out to be such a useful tool for people who like to threaten and harass.
Muna Hassan, an 18-year-old member of the charity Integrate Bristol, a charity that helps young people from other countries and cultures, has suffered for her outspoken support of the group’s campaign against FGM. “Men harass and intimidate us girls all the time,” she said.
“We made a film about FGM called Silent Scream and they spread rumours that we were being paid to make a pornographic film. They rang our fathers anonymously and said we were humiliating our families in public.
“It horrified our parents and quite a few girls weren’t allowed to do the project any more because of it.
“These are people who promote themselves as community leaders and elders. The scary thing is that these are the people that councillors and politicians go to when they want to discuss community issues.”
And the BBC – and sometimes the Guardian. This is exactly why they need to stop doing that.