Monday, 9 August 2010

The hush-hush time

Most UK schools start their holidays at the end of July, and that marks, in certain communities, the start of of the hush-hush time.  It's the time that many immigrant families take their children back home for a long summer holiday.  Nothing hush-hush about that, but what may happen to their girls when they are out of this country most certainly is.

Anything from 500 to 2000 schoolgirls will be "cut" over the summer and then in September return to school with scars that are not only physical but mental too.  The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, makes it against the law for FGM to be performed anywhere in the world on UK permanent residents of any age and carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

So far, no prosecutions have been made under this law, though interventions have.  Project Azure, a unit in the London Metropolitan Police, intervened in 39 situations in 2008, 59 in 2009 and so far 25 this year.

There are 16 clinics in the UK to deal with FGM.  In 1997 there were two.  The reconstructive surgery that Papillon decided to have is not offered in the UK, though sometimes surgery can be done to reverse the procedure for Type III. 

But wouldn't it be better if none of this was necessary, if the message is clear of what can happen, physically, mentally, and also legally, if the girls are taken away for this procedure.

Read the whole article in the Observer.
Read the effect on Papillon and her efforts to reconstruct her life.
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