Fahma Mohamed, a 17-year-old British student, is determined to make female genital mutation (FGM) a thing of the past in the UK. The process is intended to prevent sex from being pleasurable for a young woman so that she remains “pure” until marriage. The most common time for FGM to happen is over summer holidays, when families in Britain travel to other countries. So Fahma is petitioning Michael Gove, the British Secretary of State for Education, to take action fast and ask that head teachers train other teachers and parents on the horrific realities of FGM.
As told to the UK’s Guardian, as one of nine daughters in a Muslim Somali family, Fahma moved to the UK at seven years old and has seen the deep physical and emotional damage FGM can cause among many close friends and family members. She is now partnering with the Guardian as the face of their campaign to make FGM a major government priority. FGM is illegal in the UK, and the British government has promised to work toward eradicating mutilation in the past, but the practice is still occurs throughout the country. For decades, legislation against FGM has been on the books, but not one arrest has been made. It’s estimated that 66,000 women and girls in the UK have been victims of FGM, and Fahma will stop at nothing to make sure that number does not increase.
On school holidays, some families take their daughters abroad to nations where FGM is more accessible to undergo the practice. Other parents, in an effort to save on travel costs, pool their money to bring a “cutter” to the UK who will then do the procedure on several children at a “cutting party.” A major reason that the practice continues is the lack of education on its prevalence and the damage it can do. As Fahma explained to the Guardian, “If every single head teacher was given the right information, we could reach every single girl who is at risk of FGM. We could convince these families not to send their daughters abroad and help those girls at risk.”
Fahma bravely insists that she and her fellow campaigners “won’t back down and won’t go away.” She’s worked hard to make FGM a national conversation, and hardly has any plans to stop talking about it now that it’s finally in the spotlight. You can view and sign Mohamed’s Change.org petition here.
[Image via Guardian UK]