Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Combating FGM - UK and Norway

There have been a number of recent news reports about Female Genital Mutilation in Europe.

It started off in Norway with a flurry of newspaper articles.

First there was uproar in Norway over a television broadcast highlighting the fact that Norwegian born girls are taken back to Africa to be circumcised: "an alarming number of young girls born or living in Norway have been taken back to Somalia during school holiday periods and subjected to circumcision." There has been a law against FGM in Norway for 11 years.

Next there was a report to say that over 250 girls and women have asked for help over the last three years at Oslo's largest hospital after problems resulting from FGM. How many more are suffering in silence?

Thirdly, a piece saying that politicians want to put emergency measures in place. One of these proposals was to be mandatory genital screenings for girls at risk, but that must be approved by Parliament, which is currently on summer recess.

Then today two fairly similar news reports from the BBC.

The first is about Somali born Waris Dirie, now a top model, giving her account of being circumcised at the age of five, and, not unlike Papillon, her all-consuming anger:

Every day I still struggle to understand why this has happened to me - this cruel and terrible thing for which there is no reason or explanation - whatever they tell you about religion or purity. I can't tell you how angry I feel, how furious it makes me.

She has set up a foundation to work against FGM.

Next an item about the police putting up a £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved in FGM. They have timed this to coincide with the start of the school holidays, when they consider girls to be most at risk of being returned, mainly to Africa, for the ritual. The law in the UK to prevent girls being taken elsewhere for the purpose was passed in 2003 but so far no-one has been prosecuted.

The police are hoping they will get co-operation in this from the public because they don't want a situation to arise whereby girls returning from Africa are routinely screened.

That last is good news to me. Much as I am fiercely against FGM, the thought of young girls being screened as they return to the UK or Norway or anywhere else, worries me. I can't help but think it would be equally appalling for a girl who has been subjected to FGM as for one who has not, to be examined in that way.


  1. I assume this post will have a 1 to 1000 - at least - readers that dare to comment.

    OK. I do. It's important to reveal. And in return have respect.
    Stay on.

  2. Yes, we have long known that this terrible mutilation still goes on, but I was less aware about girls being taken back to Africa to have FGM during school holidays. I agree that it would be tantamount to assault to examine girls on their return.

  3. Thanks Tor and Elaine.

    I hadn't realised about the "holidays" in Africa until relatively recently. I've read more and more around the subject as a result of having become so involved with Papillon's blog.


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