Savera UK Backs Anti-FGM Manifesto

This month, Savera UK marked International Zero Tolerance for FGM Day by joining with other members of ACTION:FGM to deliver a manifesto to the Prime Minister demanding the eradication of female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030.

ACTION:FGM is a coalition of experts fighting against FGM and honour-based abuse in the UK. Its manifesto was written in consultation with prominent campaigners and FGM survivors, Dr. Leyla Hussein OBE and Hoda Ali, the Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, the Royal College of Midwives, human rights lawyers and NGOs, among other stakeholders.

Savera UK’s founder, Afrah Qassim, patron, Nazir Afzal and the charity’s celebrity ambassadors, Sunetra Sarker and Maya Jama, were four of the manifesto’s signatories.

Afrah said: “This manifesto is vital in our fight against harmful practices including FGM and ‘honour’-based abuse. It clearly highlights the policies and practices that need to be implemented in order to eliminate FGM by 2030. By working together this aim is entirely possible.”

UNICEF and the World Health Organisation estimate that over 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM; 30 million more will be subjected to it in the next decade.

Speaking of the manifesto, Dr. Leyla Hussein said: “FGM is a form of abuse and must be recognised as an act of violence against women and girls; we must not treat it as a separate issue. We must work together to continue developing and implementing policies that enable FGM and honour-based abuse to be tackled effectively in the long-term – from prevention to continued services that support FGM survivors.”

The first UK legislation criminalising FGM was passed in 1985 but there has been just four prosecutions and one conviction – in 2019 – since. The manifesto argues that ‘legislation cannot be meaningful without adequate resources to address the wider issues, does little to help survivors and does not address the general lack of awareness of FGM and its consequences.’

Dr. Charlotte Proudman, a human rights barrister and Junior Research Fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge said: “Since the criminalisation of FGM there has only been one conviction, which is appalling. It shows the inadequacy of the law alone in ending an entrenched practice. ACTION:FGM’s new approach aims to ensure that professionals work together to end FGM so no more lives are lost.”

Maajid Nawaz, LBC broadcaster and founder of counter-extremism think-tank, Quilliam, added: “The fact that thousands of British girls remain at risk of FGM every year is a damning indictment. It is simply intolerable that such a practice of mutilation and cutting of young girls occurs anywhere in the world – but it beggars belief that we haven’t eradicated this menace in liberal democratic Britain. The criminal law clearly doesn’t suffice. The struggle against this practice must now be taken up by all communities irrespective of ethnicity or creed, if ever we are to stand a chance of eliminating it.”

Alex Adams, founder of ACTION:FGM, said: “All women and girls should be asked about FGM,  including family history of the practice – at every GP surgery across the UK, regardless of ethnicity or background. This will help identify survivors and individuals at risk whilst also avoiding the stigmatisation of particular communities or ethnic groups.”

ACTION:FGM’s manifesto has garnered around 100 prominent signatories, including former chief prosecutor, Nazir Afzal OBE, Humanists UK, the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation, Baroness Lorely Burt, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists and Equality Now.

Reported by Nikki Girvan