Time to tackle Female Genital Mutilation

Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. There have been some incredibly powerful pieces appearing over the last week or so and lots of activity today including a Thunderclap at 11.30 this morning. The issue is undeniably thorny, I don’t know enough about why mothers would want this for their daughters, why they would hold them down while their genitals were cut off with a razor blade without anesthetic and sewn up around a twig to leave a hole small enough for them to urinate and at some point be cut again for a baby to be born, if infection and infertility haven’t rendered that impossible. I do know that girls need to be able to say no, and they need to be able to say no right now.

Today I wanted to find the most impactful, single action that I could take to make a difference.

I can see a press release and video from the European Commission asking us to ‘join them in saying zero tolerance to female genital mutilation’. I can see an e-petition to the UK government that has over 10,000 signatures but requires 100,000 before it is even considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee (who?). There was an Amnesty campaign in 2010 that captured 42,000 signatures, I think the focus of that has shifted to MEPs and as of today they have 9 candidate MEPs that have signed a pledge calling on future members of the European Parliament to act to end FMG. Yesterday, the Guardian teamed up with 17-year-old Fahma Mohamed to launch a campaign targeting Michel Gove, to get the risks about FGM taught in UK schools. 24,000 girls in the UK are at risk right now.

But I can’t find the campaign that’s at the forefront of this issue, the place where all our efforts need to be focused to bring about change right now.

Things seem to be moving way too slowly. In Egypt in the last three years they are reporting a decrease in numbers of girls between 15 and 17 that have been cut from 76% to 74% – they report states the numbers are ‘slowly decreasing’. Wow. They’re not wrong there.

There are numerous organisations working to tackle this issue. The Orchid Project released a film today, it has had 81 views so far. DIFID produced a piece of content that has been well circulated. ActionAid are asking for donations of £25 to support their work in school girls’ clubs in rural Africa, and Equality Now has letter templates so you can express your outrage to governmental figureheads around the world. All great, but what will make the most difference and what will bring about change the quickest – that’s what I need to know, right now!

I guess it’s just too simplistic to imagine that there would be one clear place for everyone to focus their efforts today, to bring about change tomorrow. But if anyone has a sense of where peoples’ voices (my small voice) can have the most impact, I’d really love to hear from you.

Photo from Flickr user Jonathon Narvey