Guest blog by Phoebe Waller.
Do you know the true meaning of female genital mutilation? Did you think it was something a woman was born with? Perhaps you pondered if it could be the after affects of an horrendous disease? In all honesty, I had heard of it but wasn’t quite sure what it really meant until I watched this amazing video which was created by two activists to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (FGM).
Then I discovered the truth. FGM is where a woman has her external genitals cut or removed. Yes, you read that correctly and it gets worse - there are many types of FGM.
Louise Robertson the Communications and Campaigns Manager of 28 Too Many, an organisation whom support the abandonment of FGM, explained these to me.
Louise informed me that there are four main types of FGM:
FGM is happening right now, all over the world and it is more than likely being carried out by non-medically trained women. Reasons given for performing this inhumane act of violence are mainly based on tradition; ranging from preserving the chastity of girls to keeping their family honour intact. Louise explained that there are no health benefits to FGM and that it is a violation of human rights which causes life-long physical and emotional harm.
Immediate physical effects of FGM are pain, hemorrhaging and sometimes death. Long term effects include scarring, infections and menstrual problems - the list of health problems is extensive.
As the survivors mature into women, the nightmare of FGM continues to haunt them. FGM increases risks for both mother and baby during pregnancy and childbirth and there is growing recognition that it can cause mental health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress and self-esteem issues.
Louise explained 28 Too Many’s aims for the future, she told me “Our vision is a world where every woman is safe, healthy and lives free from female genital mutilation.” She went on to explain the work they are currently undertaking, “We research FGM and produce detailed country profiles on FGM to increase knowledge and work with anti-FGM activists around the world to enable community based action to protect those at risk, support survivors, educate about the practice and encourage its abandonment.”
Although 28 Too Many’s primary focus is FGM, they also aim to tackle other forms of gender based violence including child marriage. Louise informed me that some of the communities who practice FGM also have high rates of child marriage and that it is sometimes carried out to prepare a girl for marriage. 28 Too Many supported the recent Girl Summit which focused on ending both FGM and child, early and forced marriage.
New luxury lingerie label Flimsymoon is supporting 28 Too Many in their bid to put an end to FGM. Founder Freyia Porteous is launching a Kickstarter campaign on the 30th August to enable her to get her business up and running. Freyia has pledged that if Flimsymoon’s Kickstarter goal of £6,450 is reached, then she will give 25% of all donations between £1 - £10 to 28 Too Many.
If you wish to support Flimsymoon and 28 Too Many, join Freyia on 30th August from 7pm until midnight at the Clerkenwell Gallery in Farringdon, London for Flimsymoon’s Kickstarter launch party. Free tickets are available here and guests are entered into a prize draw, receive a complementary Hendricks’ gin cocktail and can dance the night away to DJ Sam Woolenscroft’s ethereal tunes.
If you would like to learn more about 28 Too Many and how to donate or volunteer to support their work, you can visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for regular updates.
Please help these wonderful organisations put a stop to FGM and end the suffering of millions of girls and women worldwide.