October 11th 2014 is the International Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”. Female genital mutilation is one abhorrent form of violence which is done principally to disempower girls. It is usually done by forcibly cutting off the female genitals, generally without anaesthetic in unsterile conditions. It often results in death through shock, haemorrhage or infection.
Every 11 seconds, a girl somewhere in the world suffers FGM
There are 30 million girls in the world who are subjected to FGM every year, or one every 11 seconds. These girls are subjected to horrific pain and potential life long suffering or death.
FGM disempowers girls
FGM is often performed as a “rite of passage” to adolescent girls which signals readiness for marriage. In this way, FGM acts to disempower girls, to “control” their sexuality and ensure they are “pure” and will be faithful to their husbands.
Girls have a human right to control their own bodies
In keeping with the theme of empowering adolescent girls, we the undersigned anti-FGM activists, which includes both survivors of FGM and also non-survivor activists, demand that girls are allowed the human right to retain their bodies as they were born, without being subjected to brutality of having their sexual organs amputated and the consequent psychological, physical, emotional and sexual problems which can go along with such trauma.
Empowering girls through education and choice
Education is the key to empowering girls. Girls deserve to have access to education, allowing them to make good choices which are healthy and life enhancing, not coerced or forced into harmful traditions such as FGM which has no benefits, only harm.
End FGM in 2014
Let 2014 truly be the year that all girls, and especially adolescent girls everywhere are free to live a fulfilled life without torture of FGM, to be truly empowered through control of their own bodies and to make choices about their own destiny.
Let 2014 be the year that sees the end of FGM!
Ifrah Ahmed, (Ifrah Foundation, Ireland & Somalia)
Hilary Burrage (No FGM UK)
F.A. Cole (Author, “A Distant Sunrise”)
Sayydah Garrett, Samuel Siriria Leadismo (Pastoralist Child Foundation)
Khadija Gbla,Paula Ferrari, Sybil Williams (No FGM Australia)
Lucy Mashua (Mashua Voice of the Voiceless International)