UK to work with partners to uphold Ebola halt on FGM

Posted March 24, 2015 from United Kingdom
FGM campaigners pose for a snapshot. Baroness Northover in middle front row

The United Kingdom’s undersecretary of states for International Development Baroness Lindsay Northover last Friday stated that she has spoken with the head of the Department for International Development (DFID) in Sierra Leone to build partnership “very very rapidly to see” if they can change attitude towards female circumcision.

Speaking at the Standing up to FGM conference organized by ProjectACEi and Enfield council in London, Baroness Northover expressed delights over report of halt in female circumcision as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. “We have to seize this opportunity and see if we can move forward and end FGM,” she said.

She said that similar venture is being pushed by the United States to counter the practice in Liberia where the hitherto tradition is illegal.

According to Northover FGM displays extreme manifestation of gender inequality. She opines that if no action is taken a further 30 million girls will be at risk in the next decade.

Meanwhile, Sierra Leonean anthropologist and pro FGM campaigner Fuahmbai Sia Ahmadu in a blog post dated 20th January 2015 criticised media campaigns that propagate that the practice is being halted as a result of the Ebola outbreak. “Ebola is not bringing an end to female circumcision in Sierra Leone but is likely providing financial opportunities for anti-FGM activists,” she stated and added that “On a topic like FGM, where there is no fact-checking or critical thinking involved, the more outrageous and horrific the claims, the greater the chances for attention” .

Ahmadu emphasized that the practice will kickstart once the Ebola crisis is over.

However, Baroness Northover stated that the UK is the highest donor to end FGM in the world and noted that “It’s a human rights violation that can result in a lifetime of physical, psychological and emotional suffering.”

She suggested that by accepting uncircumcised women as complete women back into society, the practice will be curtailed in due time.

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