Having worked with ActionAid for the past 18 months, because they are a charity which I have always felt attuned to, I always consider how I can get involved with their campaigns.
And so, they got in touch to let me know that today, February 6th, is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.
And, for me, my instinctive reaction was- why would I want to blog about something which makes my gut wrench?
And, then I realised it is because it makes my gut wrench, because there shouldn't be things which makes my gut wrench, because I am fortunate that I can bury my head if I wish, but what makes my family more important? If there are things which are unacceptable to me, I am probably not alone.
And so, I am supporting ActionAid as they look to end violence against women and girls this year.
And this starts with the #EndFGM campaign.
And so these are the facts:
It happens to young girls all around the world even though it is outlawed in many countries.
This is one girl’s story
|Credit: Kate Holt/Shoot The Earth/ActionAid|
“My mother and brothers said it was the only thing for my future. When it had been done to me and I was in seclusion, an old man came to my brothers and gave him 15 cows to marry me.
“When the time came for the marriage ceremony his relatives and some guards carried me away. I didn’t want to go and cried. The old man had a wife before me too. She was much older and just treated me like one of her children.
“On my first night in the house with the old man we were left alone together. He forced himself on me and I felt so much pain that I cried. The other wife was waiting at the door and he asked her to come in so that she could make me bigger using a cow’s horn. The eldest daughter of the man also came in to help. It was very shaming and I felt sad afterwards.”
Christine escaped the house and ran to Kongelai where she sought help from the head of the mixed primary school who subsequently contacted ActionAid. By working with the Kongelai Women’s Network, ActionAid was able to help Christine find a place at school. The chief of Christine’s village was contacted and alerted to what had happened and her family is beginning to accept the wrongdoing. Christine is building a relationship with her family.
|Credit: Anastasia Taylor Lind/ActionAid|
“I have, most unfortunately, seen and heard at first-hand about the devastating effects of female genital mutilation. The initial trauma, the high chances of infection, the hell of sex and childbirth, the loss of all sexual pleasure, the sheer violation of every natural and humane instinct – the stories I have heard beggar belief. We can no longer turn a blind eye.
“ActionAid’s work is impactful. We work very closely with communities. We educate boys and girls about how damaging female genital mutilation is for both sexes, finally. If we want to make a dent in this habit of mutilation, we have to support those long-term programmes, they’re the only thing that produces lasting change.”
Please consider how you can support #EndFGM -whether it be tweeting, using the hashtag on social media, supporting ActionAid, but whatever, most importantly, doing whatever you can.