#FGM: Forget 'cultural differences' the practice of female genital mutilation is simple brutality

Female genital mutilation (FGM) isn’t just something that’s carried out in the deepest, darkest recesses of the globe. It's a UK problem too.

Related Topics

Imagine you’re a young girl, just blossoming into the first years of puberty, when you’re told by older women that you need to have a little procedure that will make you “part of the tribe”, it will be “good for your future” and is “part of your culture”. You comply or you’re goaded. Either way you’re now lying on a bed surrounded by women - those who should know better than to inflict the lifelong pain they’re about to pour on you - and one is wielding an unclean blade towards your clitoral hood, slowly slicing it off. Or worse still they butcher all or part of the hood and the inner labia, which once healed has to then be recut each time you have sex, and then again with the birth of each child.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) isn’t just something that’s carried out in the deepest, darkest recesses of the globe. It is estimated that in the UK over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM every year, and approximately 66,000 women are living with the consequences of this practice. Although illegal in this country for the past 30 years, there are concerns that the procedures are carried out in the privacy of family homes, or that some girls are taken abroad and have it forced upon them.

FGM is usually carried out in some African, Middle Eastern and Asia countries, however because of migration there are now cases appearing in Europe and America. The reasons for this practice vary from: religious justification - (though most Muslim scholars reject the practice) -  to family honour or increased sexual pleasure for the male and a decreased female libido - and, ultimately, social acceptance. It is only through education and grass roots groups working to challenge these accepted norms that practitioners or supporters of FGM will realise the damage they are doing. Short term health problems include infection, urine retention or immediate fatal hemorrhaging. In the long-term; extensive damage of the reproductive system, increased risk of fistula and complications in childbirth and pregnancy. There is no known health or physical benefits to FGM. In fact, it is startlingly apparent from the problems that occur over the course of their lives that these women will end up suffering more as a result.

Aside from the actual act of FGM, the saddest part about it is that it is predominantly carried out by women on women. Women play a key role in inflicting this suffering on young pubescent girls (or sometimes infants) because of some misguided patriarchal, cultural or religious notions. This is why the stigma and social silence surrounding FGM must be broken and more people must be made aware of this vicious practice.

It seems that the tide may be slowly changing as the UN last month reported a decline in FGM cases in Kenya. More countries are bringing in legislation to ban the practice of FGM, yet there are some countries like Indonesia that are resistance.

The involvement of the UN, the World Health Organisation and countless other charities on this issue has led to a perception that this is Western imperialism trying to impose itself on another culture, but FGM isn’t one of those acceptable "cultural differences" which we must learn to live with. It damages these young women for life. This brutalising act must not be allowed to continue, wherever it occurs in the world. Enough is enough.

Find out more about the campaign to end FGM here

Read more on the Independent Voices / Evening Standard campaign to end female genital mutilation:

London's challenge to stop girls' mutilation

Please help...I don't want to be cut like my sister when we go back to Africa

Sarah Sands: Judge regimes by how they treat women

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn

General Election 2015: You’re welcome to join us on the campaign's final straight

Lisa Markwell
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk