A group of teenagers have this week announced the launch of a new website focusing on educating other young people about the risks of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the dangers it poses to women in today’s society, and what can be done to stop it entirely.
Set up by Rosa, the UK Fund for Women and Girls, Everybody’s Business (www.fgm-every-bodys-biz.co.uk) is run by young people for young people as part of the 6-year Tackling FGM Initiative. It uses interactive guides and videos to inform about spotting signs of abuse and how to go about helping those believed to be at risk from practices such as FGM. The site is one of 117 community projects funded by the government aimed both at ending FGM and ‘honour’-based violence, and raising awareness for gender equality as a whole.
The launch of Everybody’s Business follows swiftly on the heels of Bristol-based charity Integrate Bristol’s recent success winning a With and For Girls Award in November. Najmo Mahdi, a young activist with Integrate Bristol, praised the website for aiming its message at young people and emphasised the importance of doing so:
‘It is so important that young people are involved in making the changes [to ending FGM] – not only are they the parents of the next generation, they are also the ones who will be living in the world that current policy makers are shaping.
‘We have a right to be included in shaping our future society!’
Between July and September 2015, 1,385 new cases of FGM were reported by healthcare professionals across England – a substantial figure even prior to the introduction of mandatory reporting of FGM by frontline authorities in October this year.
The Communities Minister, Baroness Williams, was also supportive of the launch of Everybody’s Business, and maintained a firm stance on how FGM should be viewed and treated:
‘Women and girls, wherever they are from and whatever their background, have the right to live their life free from violence.
‘Female Genital Mutilation has no place in our society and we will not tolerate it. … I hope that young people across the country will take the time to visit the Everybody’s Business website and find out what they too can do to help.’
2015 has seen an abundance of change where FGM and the law is concerned: the implementation of new legislation, the consistent raising of awareness, and now the introduction of digital media as a means of reaching out to younger community members nationwide mean that, in 2016, FGM could well be on the way out for good.