By Rosalind R.
Great report by Sue Lloyd Roberts on BBC2’s Newsnight this week about female genital mutilation.
Roberts reports that every year around 20,000 young women in the UK and France are “at risk” from female genital mutilation (FGM). I don’t know how this estimate is worked out and the programme does not tell us – rather contrasts on how the way the authorities in both countries deal with FGM.
The practice has been illegal in both countries since the mid-1980s. But whereas some 100 parents and practitioners of FGM have been convicted in France, there has never been a single prosecution in the UK.
Roberts interviews Ayanna who feld to Britain (from Somalia?) she says to escape a forced marriage and to spare her daughter mutilation and is now living in Glagow. Ayanna believes that other mothers are allowing their daughters to be cut in Glasgow.
Roberts says that in Scotland the police, health care professionals, teachers and others who have contact with refugees have, in general, next to no knowledge about how to protect girls and young women from FGM. There is no training. It is a little better elsewhere in the UK, but not much.
I particuarly liked the point of view of Muna, a Somalian teenager from Glasgow.
“They are so terrified [the politicians and police] and they are using cultural sensitivity as a barrier to stop them from really doing anything. What would you do if the girl had blue eyes and blonde hair, would FGM still be carrying on in the UK?… David Cameron should ‘grow some’ and do something about this.”
Disgracefully, reconstructive surgery to reverse FGM are not available on the NHS in the UK. Yet one indication of the extent of the problem is that there are now 17 FGM specialist clinics in the UK who see women who are about to give birth but cannot because they have been tightly sown up after being cut.
See the Newsnight report here.