The British Government have announced they are pledging £50m in aid to help end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Africa. The funds, the largest single investment to date in the world, will go towards organisations that fight against the practice, such as the Saleema project in Sudan.
FGM is a practice of removing all of parts of a girl or woman’s external genitalia. The World Health Organisation warns that this practice, which some see as a rite of passage, has numerous adverse affects on a woman’s health. They claim that woman who have had FGM are at higher risk of contracting HIV, are more likely to suffer from PTSD and are at a higher risk of death from infections such as tetanus or haemorrhages.
Though it’s been illegal in the UK since 1985, it is still practised in many African countries. The prevalence of FGM can be as high as 80% in countries such as Egypt, Somalia and Sudan.
Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, insists that fighting the problem overseas will help fight the problem here in Britain. The government says there are an estimated 24,000 women and girls at risk of FGM in the UK and 3 million women affected globally.
FGM is a crime in the UK and it both illegal to arrange for the procedure to be carried out on a woman or to perform the procedure. However, there has yet to be a successful conviction so far.
Other countries’ governments are speaking out on the issue. The National Institute for Health and Wefare in Finland recently claimed that 10,000 women in Finland had undergone FGM, with a further 3,000 at risk.
To learn more about FGM, visit the NHS website.