“Some women arrived. They took me aside and bound my eyes. Somebody sat on my chest. They opened my legs and did it without asking whatsoever. I cried so much. (…) You cannot say anything, you cannot complain, you just have to accept it. (…) God created the woman like this. A man has no right to do differently. It’s like if somebody chopped off your arm or a leg. Something is missing.” -Sanogo Generosa (61), mutilated at the age of 6. Credit.
Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The practice is widely recognized as a violation of human rights and is illegal in many countries. Yet more than 125 million women have experienced FGM worldwide, and 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of the procedure every year.
While the majority of girls undergoing FGM are in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, a significant number of girls in immigrant communities in Europe and America are also at risk.
The good news is there has never been a stronger movement to end FGM. NGOs, governments, campaigning groups and the media are working together to support girls at risk, uphold laws and change attitudes.
Here are 3 ways you can support the global fight to #endFGM.
1. Know the facts
FGM is sometimes called female circumcision, a misleading comparison to the widely practiced male circumcision. Once you know the reality of what happens to girls, you’ll never refer to it in that way. This powerful short video tells it straight.
Did you know 98 percent of women in Somalia have undergone FGM, while in Uganda it’s just 1 percent? Or that although 76 percent of women in Burkina Faso have undergone FGM, only 10 percent of men there are in favor of it?
2. Share stories
You can help raise awareness about FGM by sharing these stories.
Janet is 13 and from West Pokot in Kenya. She walked for six days to escape her family’s plans for her to have FGM, and is now living with a women’s network supported by ActionAid to campaign against FGM.
“One day I would like to go back to my community and be able to discourage other girls from having it [female genital mutilation] done and encourage them to go to school,” Janet says.
Read and share inspirational stories of girls, women and men leading change in their communities on ActionAid’s website.
3. Fight FGM in the US
The United States has longstanding laws against the practice of FGM on US soil, and in January 2013, passed a federal law against sending young women outside the country for so-called “vacation cutting”. However, girls living in America increasingly are at risk of the procedure both at home and abroad.
Sanctuary for Families provide support to girls at risk of undergoing FGM the US, and organizations like Aha Foundation to criminalize FGM in every state. Check out the sites to see how you can take action.
Listen to Katie’s story here: