The making of The Cruel Cut documentary was one of the most challenging tasks I've ever undertaken in my anti-FGM campaigning. My aim has always been to teach the British public the effects of FGM, and how we should all make sure we protect our girls from this vile practice.
I feel we achieved that and much more. But the response from the less well-intentioned viewers was to say, 'this is a Muslim issue.' It made me think. Had my message implied that FGM was purely an Islamic affair? I re-watched my own documentary to see if I had made such a statement. But no, I'd clearly stated "none of the holy books mention FGM." So, I can't help but wonder where this belief stems from.
The survivors who helped me make The Cruel Cut were both Christian and Muslim. Maybe it's the fact that I'd identified myself as a Muslim, or that we live in a world where blaming Islam for the world's ills is becoming increasingly acceptable. So ladies and gents, allow me to put this issue to rest once and for all. Let's begin with a few facts and some interesting figures (brace yourselves, here comes another list):
80% of Muslims around the world do not practice FGM. Islam advocates women's rights to sexual pleasure. The prophet Mohamed did not have his daughters undergo FGM. FGM is practiced within all religions. To be more specific, it's practiced by Christians, Muslims, Jews, animists and non-believers. FGM precedes all major religions as it was a practice that first started in Pharaonic Egypt.