By Sarata Jabbbi
The UK government in partnership with UNICEF have on Thursday July 22nd, hosted the world first Girl Summit at the Walworth academy in south London. The aim of the conference was to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation.
Speaking at the Girl Summit– the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said the cross-party unit would help protect thousands of girls across the country. The unit, which could operate in a similar way to the government’s forced marriage unit, has been a key demand of campaigners against FGM. “These measures will ensure that we can maintain the momentum on stamping out these harmful practices,” May said.Home Secretary May added that the government would also strengthen laws around FGM, by holding parents responsible if their child was a victim of the practice. May, however, went further to announce a consultation into making it mandatory for professionals to report FGM and said victims going through court cases would be given lifelong anonymity.
As part of a £1.4m prevention programme, charities will receive funding to create community “champions” with the “cultural knowledge and the connections necessary to challenge beliefs and behaviours”. “We are making progress. Today we are taking one more step on the road towards giving women a voice and eradicating these harmful practices,” concluded May.
FGM has been illegal in the UK for three decades, but the first prosecution was only made in March and is currently going through the courts. As part of a £1.4m prevention programme, charities will receive funding to create community “champions” with the “cultural knowledge and the connections necessary to challenge beliefs and behaviours”.
For his part the Prime Minister David Cameron saidthe government is to legally oblige doctors, social workers and teachers to report FGM if they see it. “What we are trying to achieve is such a simple and noble and good ambition, which is to outlaw the practices of female genital mutilation and early child forced marriage,” he said.
Cameron highlighted the equality between boys and girls by saying, “for me the context is very simple. The context is about equality. I am a dad with three children, two girls and a boy. And I want my girls to grow up with every opportunity my son have, and that is what this is about – equality.”
Many speakers including FGM survivors, gender activist and girls’ education campaigners expresses their concerns over harmful traditional practices, among them was Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani education advocator said people to abandon traditions that are harmful to human beings.
She added that Islam did not condone FGM and early forced marriage, and challenged those who used religion as an excuse to subjugate girls. “There are people who need to read the Qur’an again and do a little bit more study,” she said. Around 600 people from England and the rest of the countries in the world attended summit.