By the time it’s taken you to have a sip of tea a child will have been mutilated
My main source of anger and despair this week has not been the battle for No10. I’ve been raging on behalf of millions of abused girls.
I announced on Loose Women on Tuesday that I am fronting a campaign for the United Nations to fight for gender rights and end female genital mutilation.
UN Women UK wants to make sure every woman has an equal right to safety, choice and a voice. And FGM is one of the battlegrounds – it wants to end this barbaric procedure by 2030.
Our Countdown Has Begun #drawaline campaign refers to the shocking fact that every 10 seconds, a little girl is taken away to undergo FGM.
So by the time it’s taken you to have a sip of tea, a child will have been mutilated for life.
This is not a religious practice but a cultural tradition used widely in African countries like Egypt, Somalia and Ethiopia.
But it is on the rise closer to home. A married couple will this week become the first in Ireland to be sentenced for the FGM of their one-year-old daughter.
It is inhumane. Yet it is thought nearly 6,000 women in Ireland have undergone it and nearly 3,000 are at risk.
The cruel practice is carried out to inhibit a woman’s sexual feelings. As one survivor told me, it is a way to control women – if women don’t get pleasure from sex, then men believe they won’t go be tempted to sleep around or have affairs.
They are worth more to their families if they have been cut.
Human Rights Day was celebrated this week and so many of us take our freedoms for granted.
Girls should be able to lead happy lives free from pain – not butchered because of despicable views. But more than 200 million women across the world have suffered FGM.
As a woman and a mother to a daughter, I cannot sit by knowing that girls as young as eight are mutilated and that for the rest of their lives they will be in pain. And FGM prevents girls from reaching their full potential, which affects their community, economy and social advancement.
Girls and women are assets to society, and barriers to their human rights need to be smashed down to help them flourish.
My good friend Hibo Wardere is an FGM survivor and truly woke me up to the abuse. She was mutilated while her mum watched.
I feel so honoured to have been asked to be part of this campaign with the United Nations, which is committed to putting a stop to violence against women and girls around the world, including in the UK.
If you would like to support the cam-paign and help save a little girl from the horror of FGM, please go to unwomenuk.org/drawaline for how to donate.
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