CANADA STEP UP AND END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
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My name is Malaika Somji and I am sixteen years old. I became involved in ending FGM because its time for us to use our voices, actions and most importantly our knowledge to create a change and end female genital mutilation. Many people don’t know about it, and of those who do, many aren’t comfortable talking or hearing about it. But by placing so much emphasis on worrying about the cultural sensitivities of the adults, we are sacrificing the fundamental human rights of the children. I hope to educate others and to inspire change to stop this despicable act of torture and violation.
For many Canadians, female genital mutilation is a foreign term, not everyone knows about or cares to look into, unaware that it may be taking place in their own backyard. FGM is exactly what it sounds like. It involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is not a religious practice. What it is, is an issue affecting women and girls in Canada and around the world and it is a violation of their human rights.
FGM was added to Canada’s Criminal Code in 1997 under Section 268 in the form of “aggravated assault.” Anyone involved in FGM can be charged. The Criminal Code indicates that any person who commits aggravated assault could face imprisonment for up to 14 years. And yet — there has never been a criminal prosecution on FGM in Canada.
Canadian girls are being taken out of the country to have it performed, and immigrants in the country are not being provided with support to cope with issues that may arise even years after FGM has taken place. There is little support provided for FGM-specific initiatives, and no concrete research to gauge the actual number of cases in Canada. Approaching FGM in Canada requires a holistic response in the same way as other issues that only affect women.
I urge the government to take action to ensure that no Canadian girl is ever forced to go through this torture and that survivors have the help and support they need. When the Women's Deliver Conference happens in Vancouver this June let's show the world that Canada is tackling the difficult issue of FGM on its own turf. I am urging the Canadian government to implement a National Action Plan to protect girls at risk in Canada and to support survivors Help end this harmful practice for good.
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