in brief: female genital mutilation hotline launched in united kingdom
Young women who are or may become victims of female genital mutilation can now find 24-hour support via a helpline, the Independent reported this week. The project, launched by the children’s charity NSPCC, is the first of its kind in the U.K.
The procedure, which involves partial or complete removal of the external female sex organs to preserve virginity, is practiced in many countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and some regions of South America. It is still prevalent in the Diasporas of the U.K. The NSPCC has advocated for its designation as child abuse and has started the helpline in an effort to provide information and support for young women and anyone who fears they may be at risk. Many women are taken out of Europe in the summertime to have the procedure done – girls as young as four, reports the Independent.
In April, 29-year-old Londoner Nimco Ali blamed the reluctance of Britons to talk about FGM for putting so many young women like her in danger. Ali was taken to Somalia when she was seven, and though she survived the procedure, many girls are not so lucky. It is generally performed without aesthetic, in unsterile conditions by unqualified practitioners, and can leave behind traumatic physical and psychological scars.
Ali founded the organization Daughters of Eve to help educate Londoners about FGM, a city, she told the Evening Standard, that is the FGM capital of Europe.
‘The support has not been there for young women to come forward to talk about what is happening to them,’ she said, adding: ‘People are embarrassed, so you can see why people can get away with it because nobody talks about vaginas.
‘People can’t even say the proper word for genitals.’
FGM has been illegal in the U.K. for more than 25 years, but because the surgery often happens in secret, it is a difficult crime to prosecute. The NSPCC reports more than 1,700 victims sought out resources in the last two years.
In April, Scotland Yard reopened six cases of female genital mutilation occurring between 2009 and 2012. There are also two more cases under investigation, including one involving a plan to carry out FGM on a girl in London. The hope is that a precedent will be set for future prosecution, and that the list of possible charges related to FGM will bring more people to justice.