Post archive for 2011

Falling between the cracks

16 December 2011

As I know from working in Barnet, the borough is diverse – 33% of the population coming from the black and minority ethnic population, placing it 16th rank position in London. At the first anti-FGM meeting we held in Barnet recently under Safeguarding Month, 26 professionals attended to hear speakers from 28TooMany, Imkaan and FORWARD, sharing about FGM. Yet, why do women still fall through the cracks?

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What is the 16 Days of Activism Campaign?

25 November 2011

It’s an annual global campaign taking place from 25th November – 10th December, aiming to raise awareness around gender based violence (GBV). It begins on International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November) and ends on International Human Rights Day (10th December), symbolically linking violence against women (VAW) as a violation against human rights

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Are we silent to violence around us?

04 November 2011

‘We’re perpetrators. We allowed this to happen’, said a Bishop form the Democratic Republic of Congo at the launch of the Silent No More Report (WB1). This response recognised The Church, by its silence, has been complicit in allowing sexual violence to go unaddressed

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How can we support Kenyan communities to abandon the knife – ending FGM?

14 October 2011

As I travel to Kenya, my head is full of images and stories of girls undergoing FGM. How can meetings I’ve had recently with MPs and NGOs in London, and plan to hold in Nairobi, end this practice

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How can ‘change’ be made when the challenges seem insurmountable?

23 September 2011

This is what I am often asked as I take a stance against FGM, a practice that’s been around for 2000 years. Yet when you read the poem at the end of this - produced with ‘Fouzia’s’ permission, a young woman admitted to hospital for FGM complications – how can one not act?

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What do other faiths say about FGM?

02 September 2011

This was one of my questions when I studied cross-cultural studies. I knew there as not mention of it in the Bible, but what do faiths say on the subject? Here are some statements made from the three main monotheist religions about their views on

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Where is there help for those who suffer FGM in the UK?

15 August 2011

For girls that suffer FGM, it is a very traumatic event, as often these girls do not know what is going to happen to them. Their heads are filled with promises of wonderful gifts and becoming a woman, but what they receive instead is a life full of pain and suffering which is more than physical.

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What are children’s aspirations today? How do they differ for child brides?

22 July 2011

‘When I grow up I want to be…’. How often are these eight mortal words spoken from the mouths of babes? My early aspirations included being a surgeon(!), a physio and then a teacher…so how did I become a banker at age 16?! So what do child brides aspire to

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When are cultural practices against the needs of an individual?

08 July 2011

TRUE OR FALSE? 1) A woman accepts her exile saying ‘If they say I’m a witch, then I must be’. 2) Are children selected for ritual killings for being left handed, geniuses or dyslexic? 3) Do Cameroonian girls have their pubescent beasts ‘ironed’ to attempt to help them disappear? 4) Are oath rituals are used to coerce children into trafficking? Read on for the answers and explanations

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“FGM – that only happens in Africa doesn’t it?” Not so! Prepare for the summer cutting season in the UK.

24 June 2011

Accordingly to Mukami McCrum, FGM is a “violation so intrusive and personal that many people adopt a culture of silence as it is humiliating and embarrassing to talk about”. Due to migration, FGM is not restricted to African geographical or political boundaries. Find out about its presence in the UK below

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How can the power of art change hearts and minds against FGM?

10 June 2011

What can a Senegalese urban soul and hip-hop star do to help end FGM? Or groups of Women quilting or embroiding images of female genitalia do to raise awareness of FGM? See how art can change hearts and minds when articles and headlines no longer impact us in our over trauma/stimulated world…

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Why will most of sub-Saharan Africa not achieve the Millenium Development Goals?

20 May 2011

With globalisation and the spread of human mobility, health concerns of developed and less developed countries have become interdependent. Just as SARS brought Hong Kong to its knees in 2003, what impact has failing maternal health on our future

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‘Alternative’ postcard from Kenya

06 May 2011

What lies beneath a beautiful country? What are your thoughts on Kenya? A wildlife safari? Idyllic beaches? Smiles and great coffee? Having been there ten times since 2001, I’ve had the privilege to peek below the surface. Read on if you’re open to widen your views!

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The power of the media – who cares?!

19 April 2011

This month I have been busy promoting the cause! I have contributed to a fistula best practice guide; an article on FGM in Mali and Djibouti; an online news journal (as the FGM Co-ordinator leaves government) and two radio broadcasts – one for Premier Radio and the other for Talking Books for the Blind. See

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The role of the change agent – is it consultancy or a calling? How can leaders keep their skills honed?

05 April 2011

Having worked in five and visited three other countries last year, I was aware of the need for quick adjustment to cultural fit! I recently attended People in Aid (weblink 1) Forum/AGM. Plan International, working in the Philippines Floods seeks five qualities in their disaster workers: inspiring/having confidence; agility; good communication and being results-driven. How can we all keep our skills up to date in changing times

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Does the West have a place in changing a principally African traditional practice?

25 March 2011

How do you answer these questions: Can FGM end in a generation – after 1000 years of embedded practice? What does it take to campaign for 10 years to change a traditional practice? Can lessons in Ethiopia be transferred elsewhere? Can we in the West contribute to change in Africa? Read on…!

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‘A Million Women Rise’ Does a large number of followers make people stand up and take not – or does it just pass us by? Do statistics, facts, and figures empower and engage or number us in our media-

11 March 2011

I recently visited the Museum of London with a friend, and amongst other things followed London’s history from Saxon villages to 2010 metropolis! Somewhere on that eclectic journey, I learnt more about the Suffragette movement and just what those women sacrificed to make a difference. In celebration of 100 years of International Women’s Day, I

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What purpose do commemorative days hold for us – time to raise awareness and celebrate past successes or a guilt trip by activists?

22 February 2011

With over 130 commemorative days, International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM (6th February) falls between Family Literacy and Valentine’s Day! FGM has been illegal since the FGM Act 2003, yet it has done little to change the reality for 24,000 UK girls under 15 who are at risk. We have seen laws are not enough. So what next

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How long does it take to change cultural practice? Should social norms continue if they cause harm?

08 February 2011

As I set at FORWARD’s office in Chandelier Building, Scrubbs Lane, I recall being in Northern Pakistan this time last year. The 200 woollen hats knitted by my church for the new borns arrived this week - much needed in these winter days with no electricity. Although only performed in certain tribes in Pakistan, WHO states FGM increases the risk of child birth complications, Caesareans and causes 50% higher infant death rates. So can we change this practice

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Peace in Africa – can individuals hope to make a difference?

21 January 2011

As we venture into 2011, with our personal and global hopes of a peaceful referendum in Sudan; the drying up of tidal waters in Australia; eradicating FGM or the end of the worst UK winter for 100 years, I reflect on a hope set for 2010 ‘Make Peace Happen’ – set by the African Union for last year. Does setting a vision or goal make a difference? Did anything change? Can we be hopeful for

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The role of the change agent – is it consultancy or a calling? How can leaders keep their skills honed?

07 January 2011

Having worked in five and visited three other countries last year, I was aware of the need for quick adjustment to cultural fit! I recently attended People in Aid Forum/AGM. Plan International, working in the Philippines Floods seeks five qualities in their disaster workers: inspiring/having confidence; agility; good communication and being results-driven. How can we all keep our skills up to date in changing times

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The Ashworth Group