A Topic We Should Pay Attention To

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Most readers outside of the UK will not have heard of Fahma Mohamed a 17 year old school girl from Bristol in England. In February she led a campaign to stop female genital mutilation and quickly attracted a 250,000 petition in the UK plus the support of Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Within a month of launching her campaign Fahma had also met with Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Education for England. He promised to write to all schools advising them of this issue and their responsibilities of care towards girls thought to be at risk or who have been subjected to this illegal activity. He also agreed that the issue should be taught within English schools. So what is the issue? FGM is a practise thought to affect 140 million women and girls around the world including 66,000 in the UK. The practise involves cutting young girls genitalia and has been practised for generations. In most countries it is outlawed but in many it still continues. Migrants from parts of the world where the practice continues tend to import the practice on their arrival elsewhere. You can read about FGM here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_mutilation and here: http://orchidproject.org/?gclid=CITDheSPur0CFWjKtAod9AoAJg The consequences of such illegal cutting can be devastating on girls’ and womens’ health both short term and long term. But stopping all of this involves widespread cultural change and more general education. Yes this is a difficult topic for schools as is the closely related topic of the more general treatment of women. But education is the best hope that we have and we all have some responsibility as educators to take a stance. What has been interesting here is that Fahma and Malala both represent new young voices trying to bring these issues to wider attention. As such we should listen and support.

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