Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a truly horrible practice and violation of the rights of girls. February the 6th was the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. (I’m late I know but it was a long weekend in NZ and I was camping without internet access).
FGM is the practice of removing the external female genitalia in order to stop sexual feeling in females. The mutilation is carried out on young girls and is very dangerous with many victims dying from blood loss or infection. FGM also has ongoing negative effects on health such as difficult/painful urination and menstruation, increased risk of childbirth complications and psychological problems.
I highly recommend the book Desert Flower by Waris Dirie and Cathleen Miller. This book is Dirie’s autobiography following her story from her childhood in Somalia to her success as an international model and Bond girl. I read Desert Flower years ago but it has really stuck with me. Dirie’s account of her “circumcision” and the effect that this has had on her throughout her life is really eye opening. I always find reading personal accounts of atrocities such as FGM really brings the issue to life and makes it much easier to understand the importance of combating the issue, in this case FGM. Waris Dirie is really amazing she has gone on to be a champion for the fight against FGM and a human rights ambassador for the U.N. and I cannot recommend this book enough.
If you would like to join the campaign to stop FGM check out Stop FGM Now and the Desert Flower Foundation. Now is a really important time to keep the pressure on regarding this issue as we are seeing progress with countries such as Nigeria and The Gambia banning FGM. Although these are great steps education and raising awareness about FGM is also very important as FGM is often practiced due to cultural or religious reasons which laws alone cannot change.