Make UK schools a safer place to address FGM and child marriage
It is 2016 and yet Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are issues that girls in the UK still face. Although illegal, they are still happening – it is estimated that 65,000 girls under the age of 13 are at risk of FGM here in the UK. In 2014 the Home Office Forced Marriage unit provided support to 1,267 cases.
My name is Fatima Awil and coming from a Somali background, from a country where 98% of girls have undergone FGM, it is a community that has been scarred and held back by this practice. Protecting girls from these harmful practices is something that I have dedicated my life to.
Many mothers have faced FGM, but their daughters shouldn’t have to suffer the same fate. These harmful practices don’t just affect girls, 1 in 5 victims of child marriage in the UK are male. FGM and child marriage are universal issues and are not limited to any country, race or religion. If the government really want to break this cycle, they need to reach out and protect young people.
FGM transforms natural occurrences in women; such as menstruation, urination and child birth, into a nightmare. Girls forced into marriage, are more likely to be subjected to violence, such as rape. These issues are forms of child abuse which prevent girls from reaching their full potential.
That’s why I’ve started this campaign with Youth For Change.
We desperately need to tackle these harmful practices. With so many girls being cut, and pushed into ‘marriage’ against their will,it is extremely likely that you know a survivor, but have not heard their story. Don’t let these silent forms of abuse, continue to take place. You can make the difference, by ensuring that these issues do not go unnoticed and that young people are protected. This can’t happen without response, this can’t happen without your help.
Research conducted by Youth For Change, shows that 71% of safeguarding boards members surveyed, said that safeguarding training in schools is not adequate in addressing FGM or child marriage. 1 in 5 young people surveyed, said they would not report concerns about FGM or child marriage at school.
School staff in the UK could play a key role in the eradication of FGM and child marriage; prevent cases from happening, and providing support to those at risk and survivors.
That’s why I’m calling on #TrainToProtect
Join us in calling for the Secretary of State for Education to make UK schools a safer place to report FGM and child marriage.
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