Earlier this month the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place in New York focusing on violence against women and girls. A variety of topics were covered, including female genital mutilation. Attending the session were around 6,000 non-governmental orginasations (NGOs) as well as government delegations from across the globe, including 100 NGOs from the UK.
The topic of female genital mutilation (or FGM) is often thought of as a risk only present in Africa, where it is thought three million girls are at risk. Over the years it has come to light that the UK is not immune to this kind of mutilation. The exact figures are unknown, however it is thought that there are 20,000 girls at risk and 66,000 women already living with the consequences of FGM in the UK.
There are four types of FGM, ranging from the removal of the clitoris to the sealing of the vagina. Consequences of this kind of mutilation include urine retention, infection, damage to the reproductive system and fatal hemorrhaging. On top of the physical complications, the trauma of FGM often leads to mental health issues.
Even girls born in the UK are at risk, and it is thought that those who go missing from school may be taken abroad for the procedure. It is essential that teachers and health professionals are trained to recognise the warning signs and that FGM is considered as a possible cause if girls do go missing.
The UK government has pledged £35 million to help prevent FGM through education and by challenging cultures that justify the act. The practice takes place in various countries around the world including Africa, the U.S., New Zealand, the UK and other parts of Europe. Some cultures that practice FGM may see it as an act of ‘honour’ while others view it as a way to preserve cleanliness.
The government’s new action plan has demonstrated how far we’ve come in addressing this type of gender-based violence and yet it also illustrates how much still remains to be addressed.
Suffering from any form of abuse or trauma can leave you with both physical and mental complications. It is imperative that you seek help for both. Speaking to a counsellor who is qualified in dealing with such issues could help you deal with what happened and regain control of your life. For more information, please see our Trauma or Abuse pages.
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