Guest blog by Lydia Miller.
'Who has heard of FGM?’
Nineteen blank faces looked back at me whilst one man tentatively raised his hand.
I was volunteering in a school in rural South Western Uganda, running a series of safeguarding workshops for teachers, and after hearing Ann-Marie Wilson speak at a recent event about the work that 28 Too Many was doing across Africa, this was a topic I was determined to include.
Although 28 Too Many research shows that the practice of FGM is considerably lower in this region than in other parts of Africa (1.4% of women are estimated to have had FGM according to data gathered in 2011) I knew that this issue needed to remain high on the school’s agenda.
The nineteen blank faces that looked up at me confirmed this. The one teacher who had heard of FGM did not know very much, but had heard from another man in his village that FGM was a medical procedure that prevented young women from having sex outside of marriage and therefore protected them from contracting HIV/AIDS.
We spent the next few hours looking at the data that 28 Too Many had gathered; understanding the different tribal groups that practice FGM, the physical and emotional effects of the mutilation on young women and how to recognise young woman who may have had FGM before further health complications arise.
We then spent time discussing how they could get involved in the eradication of FGM within their communities; the teachers were full of ideas and were united in their determination to create a plan of action. Top of their agenda was to organise a meeting with local faith leaders in order to share their new found knowledge and spread the word across the district. It’s exciting to see the passion that these teachers have not only to protect the children within their school, but to eradicate the practice of FGM in Uganda.
The most encouraging part of my experience with these teachers was seeing their understanding that a key part of ending FGM is through the education and promotion of children’s rights. They critically examined their teaching methods and approaches, working hard to see how they could empower the children in their classrooms; developing and nurturing their students to be confident, self-aware young people that in turn can educate, campaign and work together to end the atrocity that is FGM in the 21st century.
28 Too Many researches FGM and campaigns to end the practice in the 28 African countries where it is practised and across the global diaspora. You can support our work by donating to fund our research and keep up to date with our progress by liking our page on Facebook and following us on Twitter.