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How to prevent rape

One in four women will be raped. Only 10% will report it. The other 90% will take refuge in silence. 50% of these be cause the perpetrator is a family member or someone they know. The other half think they won’t be believed. And they won’t be believed.” – Ines Hercovich

Why didn’t she call for help?

Why does she stay?

How could she go home with him?

Why would she wear them clothes?

She shouldn’t have drunk so much.

She should have said no again.

She should have struggled more.

She shouldn’t have left her friends.

What do you expect?

All the above is called victim blaming which happens so often and in so many contexts that when someone is raped they themselves question whether they were raped or just simply ‘asking for it’.

The world teaches us that we’ve done something wrong. We’re shamed and blamed in to thinking it’s our own fault. We should not be carrying the burden of their actions by ourselves. 90% of us should be given more of a chance.

A situation that is so common, yet almost completely silenced.

A situation where I think I drank too much.

I made a mistake.

I should have tried harder.

A situation caused by greed, power and privilege.

A situation involving not me, just my body.

A situation caused by someone else.

A situation where the only thing that could have stopped me from being raped that night is the person that raped me.

how to prevent rape

However, not all rapists are monsters. And not all victims are damaged.

In fact, what is damaging are these labels. These labels do not explain what makes an everyday man lose his humanity for minutes of self-centred pleasure and control. Rapists, abusers and violators are not devils crawling in and out of black holes reaching out to our bodies with one aim in life.

They walk the streets with us, sit in our classrooms, they’re our bosses, our boyfriends, they’re everywhere.

Which is why, to stop violence against women, girls, and everyone else in fact, we need to shift the focus from women and girls and bring men into the conversation. Men need to be part of this movement, and men need to be the main leaders of this fight because it’s men that are being failed at some point, in a society that leads them to believe they have privilege and control over someone else’s body on a scary scale that has been happening today and for years and years and years.

A situation that goes beyond borders, race, religion and status.

It is our job to speak up for the women and girls who are unable. Women and girls who can’t find the strength or are not ready to share their story. Women and girls who live in place where their lives will be in even more danger for saying the words ‘he raped me’.

But men and boys also need to be encouraged to speak up and say ‘I raped her’ in order to change societies blame game, and in order to understand better, in a humane and safer perspective, why men are the solutions and fully responsible for this inhumane global pandemic.

Our voices matter. Our words can create change. But we need all voices, not just the survivors, and not just women.

Each story involves two people. We need to create questions for him, and conversation for her. And we need to give both a space in which we can address this global issue, so that his son does not make the same mistake to her daughter, so we can create a safe world for everyone and our futures.

quotes

So, let’s change the questions;

Why does he hit her?

Why is domestic violence a global issue?

Why are men the main perpetrators to all children, women and other men?

“Why do so many men abuse physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally the women and kids that they claim to love?

What’s going on with men?

Why is this a common problem in society?

Why do we hear over and over again about new scandals erupting in major institutions like the Catholic Church or the Penn State football program or the Boy Scouts of America, on and on and on?

What’s going on with men?” – Jackson Katz: Violence against women — it’s a men’s issue

Rape quotes

This is not a battle or about girls vs boys. We’re all producing this culture and behaviour and we all suffer as a result. How are we all going to stop it?

Let’s talk. Let’s challenge. Let’s end it for all of us.

Hoping for the best,

V

X

p.s this is just 745 words, this is not my whole scope or thoughts or words on the issues surrounding gender, men, women, society, sexual abuse and violence. I want this to be something positive and to create something positive from something that is so disturbingly negative, personal and common. I don’t claim to have all the answers and everyone deals with things differently, but this is just 745 words and for some that’s brave, and a start, and it might just help someone’s life, so let’s hope for change, take care of each other and just be nice.

Below is a list of things I’ve read, watched and resources for anyone who is interested in learning and understanding more about one of our world’s biggest and ongoing problems;

And you can find these on Netflix:

  • The Hunting Ground
  • Audrie & Daisy

And these are some of my other related blogs:

If anyone has any good resources, website links, blog posts or books then please share!

Water is a women’s issue.

Believe it or not, water IS a women’s issue. The physical act of fetching water is part of gender inequality. Sanitation, which is a blessing thanks to water, is also a major challenge for those who have no idea what safe sanitation is. That is why I am walking 70,000 steps over the next 7 days for the organisation Care International UK. It’s my first proper fundraiser and my first week of teaching again in China (eeeek!) so it’s a super busy week for me! Plus, I’m new to the city of Shenzhen so all these steps will involve exciting new places and probably me getting lost a lot. But why am I going on about girls and gender inequality again? Who does it actually affect? And what’s the point?

But what about boys that make that same journey?

Someone asked me the other day, “but what about boys that make that same journey? Why is the focus on girls and women?” and I thought this was a brilliant starting point to explain why. Honestly, not many people have donated to the fundraiser yet, hence why I’m writing this blog. And aside from the fact that Care International are a women and children’s focused charity (due to the *crazy* idea that girls can eradicate poverty), perhaps not everyone understands the connection or importance of women and water. So please, you don’t have to donate or even speak to me again, but for your knowledge and for the future of our daughters, please just read this blog.

On a global scale, having better and safer water options helps women and girls in phenomenal ways, which in turn could see the eradication of global poverty.

Here are 10 facts on why water is a women’s issue…

  1. Safe water options reduce violence against girls and women. Walking at the age of 10 years old, along empty paths and across isolated lands means that girls like Ambie are at risk every day from sexual violence and harm. Issues that boys rarely face, and issues that girls face way too often. And in Ambie’s case, she’s just getting water so that her and her family can see another day…
  2. In addition to this, inadequate sanitation facilities like having actual toilets means that girls (especially those in cultures where shame and insecurity play major factors) will wait until it’s dark to defecate and urinate, which in itself causes three big problems – girls can’t go to school, health issues occur where they’re holding in too much for too long, and nightfall increases their risk (again) to sexual violence and harm.
  3. The lack of sanitation in schools for girls also means that when they reach puberty, they’re physically unable to attend school thanks to the facilities being catered for guys.
  4. School performance and school enrolment increases for girls in areas that have safer and better water access.
  5. Reduction in violence, education and work opportunities for girls mean that they grow to be women who will lift not only their families out of poverty, but their communities too. There is a huge correlation between focusing aid and opportunities on women rather than men to reduce poverty levels.
  6. In countries where water remains a problem, women also bear the majority of the housework. This means that it’s a woman’s duty to still walk 3 hours a day in some of the hottest places of the earth, carrying litres of water, and holding her youngest child whilst being 8 months pregnant. That’s not even an exaggeration. It really does happen. And that’s a woman’s problem.
  7. Contamination and exposure to hygiene related diseases such as sepsis and hepatitis means that periods and pregnancy in general can be extremely dangerous for these millions of women and their babies.
  8. This water that’s collected is not even always safe or clean. These women just have no other option but to give contaminated water to their families. As a result, 500,000 children die every year from dirty water, diarrhoea and many more to cholera.
  9. In Africa, 90% of this burden will be carried by women. Girls under 12 years old will be twice as likely to carry this responsibility than boys under the age of 15 years old.
  10. Unless gender is integrated and implemented in targets like safe water for all, then global goals like poverty eradication by 2030 will never be achieved.

And aside from all of that, shouldn’t water be a basic human right for anyone? How lucky are we to turn on a tap and sit on a toilet, thanks to luck and location. Why do millions not have that same basic human right and we have no limits?

 

And on a personal scale…

  1. I’ve attended two women’s marches in the last year, both organized by Care International. Both were filled with inspirational women from all around the world, with inspiring, life-changing and heart-breaking stories. As an organization, I’ve really grown to love their work and believe in the good that they do for the world.
  2. Nearly 1/2 of the world live in poverty, in situations that we can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve travelled and seen extreme poverty, worked with children who come from difficult backgrounds and met incredible people who might never receive the same opportunities as you and I, just because of the location, circumstance and luck they were born in to. If there’s anything I can do to change this, then I’m gonna try my absolute best, no matter how small. And you can help too!

How can you help?

There are so many things that you can do to help me and them! You can join me! Or straight up donate to my fundraiser! This is the lovely link….

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vanisha-sparks

Or if you really can’t spare even £5 (which will turn into £10 when you donate before the 22nd!!) then you can share this story and link around to your friends and family in hope that it’ll reach more people and I can actually hit my very small target for women and girls all over this world who need it so bad, and who could literally change this planets future given the right opportunities and chances.

So, from Monday 16th April – Sunday 22nd April join me in my 70,000 steps in China. The UK government are also DOUBLING all donations made during this time which is incredible so be sure to click gift aid on all of your donations!

Thanks for reading if you got this far! It’s so important for me and for girls like Precious up there! Keep up with my stuff on Instagram and snapchat this week! You da best.

V

x

Research and useful links

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/when-women-no-longer-have-walk-water

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/world-water-day-how-women-farmers-can-overcome-drought

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/search/content/water

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/walk-her-shoes-journey-no-other

http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/gender.shtml

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bEtqZoD4V4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_o_oqEHluw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–uWCAOehOo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfjEcOp-SeQ

International Women’s Day 2018

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and this year we also celebrate The Year of the Woman. And we carry the movements of #TimesUp, #MeToo, #HeForShe and many others around our world as we see women capturing headlines and rising up, demanding for change. But why is this so important still? Why are we still fighting for change? And how are half the humans born on this planet still facing lives of inequality and injustice? These are questions we hear on a daily basis, so I hope, whoever and wherever you are, that this piece will bring you the knowledge, inspiration and the power to act now. Because the #TimeIsNow. Let’s #pressforprogress.

International Women’s Day is a day for everybody. Yes, everybody. It’s a day to look at our progress, our future and our current successes. And I don’t want to write a long-winded serious essay today so I’m just gonna give you guys a few facts, a list of women that are inspiring me today, and a lil empowerment for you all to take in.

I hear more often than ever the confused question of “but women are equal now?”. And, we have come a long way, it’s true. Thanks to the Pankhursts and tonnes of brave women who have been fighting for the last 100 years and since, well, forever, us women in the West are reasonably lucky. From the hills of Hollywood to the women in the workplace, women are finding their power and using their voice. But we are still not equal. And the women in the developing countries that exist around us are living in situations that we can’t even begin to imagine. Situations far from safety, far from luck, and even further from equality.

So, we fight on. And it’s not just women. For all you guys who are still reading but questioning your place in this global movement, this is for you too. For all the gender stereotypes, for equality for ALL genders, this is to smash that glass ceiling and bin the ideas around blue is for boys and crying is for girls. For everyone who identifies between the binary, this day is for you too. Because we all deserve a fair and equal chance in life filled with love, safety and opportunity.

A big problem surrounding gender inequality is poverty. Did you know that we can eradicate global poverty if we achieved these two words? Gender equality. Because poverty is sexist. 70% of the world poorest people are women. If we educated more girls, less girls would die at childbirth, less women would experience domestic abuse and violence, and more women would be able to push their family out of poverty, therefore breaking both cycles that threaten millions of people worldwide. The goal is 2030. Are you with me?

So, what are the facts? Why are we still fighting?

  • Because out of the millions of human trafficking victims, you’ll find 8 out of 10 of them are females.
  • Because women are more likely to be victims of rape and domestic violence than from cancer, war, car accidents and malaria. This blows my mind.
  • Because 250 million girls alive today were married before their 15th This is worse for girls as they are more likely to die from childbirth, more likely to be victims of abuse and violence and less likely to receive education than they’re male counterparts or if they were married 5 years later as adults.
  • Because in the US, women earn on average 78 cents for every man’s dollar.
  • Because we all know Ed Westwick, Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman. These men of power, status and money have all had allegations of harassment, sexual assault and sexual’ misconduct made against them. And they’re just a few names! Imagine how many more there are, how many names we’ll never hear still.
  • Because half the world is female. Because it affects the most privileged white woman from the US, to the poorest Asian woman from the Philippines. That should be reason enough.

And here are my people of the year…

  • Gloria Allred. I actually had no idea who this woman was until a few weeks ago when I watched her documentary on Netflix (called Seeing Allred) and became in awe. She’s a modern-day heroine whose name is behind some of the biggest headlines of our year, yet her name is not celebrated or even well-known. Allred is a woman’s attorney in America, fighting especially on high profile cases that victimise and twist the rights of women. Cases against Weinstein, O.J Simpson and Donald Trump. She takes a lot of stick, but due to her own experiences and passion for justice, Allred fights on and is truly a force to be reckoned with.
  • Angelina Jolie. We all know her, we’ve all seen her movies but not everyone knows what she’s up to today. She’s my inspo in so many ways. Of course, she’s great in films, and we’ve all seen her grow and mature through them all, but her best work is the work she does for humanity. Jolie has used her fame and platform to do good, speak up and invest in those that need it the most. What a woman. She works for the UN, LSE, helps refugees, women and children, and has also directed the incredible movie First They Killed My Father, which you can also find on Netflix!
  • Nazra Akter is an advocate for women and worker’s rights in Bangladesh. She’s worked in sweatshops from the age of 13 and has experienced hardship, abuse and inequality in the workplace. So, she started a women’s union party and continues to fight every day for the safety and lives of women. Women like her make our t-shirts, socks and trousers. It’s time women and their work were given more recognition, respect and money than our clothes. Our fashion industry is full of sexism, inequality and absolute horrors. I’m currently researching and writing about it but you can start by signing this petition; https://act.careinternational.org.uk/letter_garment_factories
  • Me and you. We have the power and platform to be just as incredible as these three women (we could give it a good go anyway!). The world needs more activists and feminists. These shouldn’t be scary, demonised words. They are brave, bold and life-changing. Encourage it, encourage yourself and encourage everyone around you. Can we achieve gender equality by 2030? Not without me and you. Are you with me?

IWD 2018 is all about being brave, standing up for what’s right, becoming everyday activists and taking action into our own hands!

Whether you’re young, old, male, female, black, white and everything in between know that

you are valued

you are loved

you are worthy

you deserve respect

you deserve to be heard

you can change the future,

you can change lives and

you can start today.

Are YOU with me?

Have a great day. Go kick some ass. Let’s change the world.

Vanisha

X

So, how can you join me? –

Sign a petition:

https://www.one.org/us/take-action/poverty-is-sexist/

https://act.careinternational.org.uk/letter_garment_factories

Listen:

Listen to women. Trust us. Believe us.

Speak out:

Whenever you see an injustice, a threat or any form of inequality, call it out and use your voice. And use your voice anyway! Show ya support. I wanna hear you not just today, but every day.

Support:

There are so many people and organisations that you can follow and support today. I’ll give ya these to start with…

– Mision Mexico

– Care International

– UN women

– Humanity Unified

Live out your activism:

Let the fight for equality go beyond just statuses and today. Make an effort to make it a real part of you. You’re a life-changer.

And support me!

I’ll be doing a fundraising event in April for March4women, follow me on social media to see how you can support that and keep up to date with me and my ramblings @vanishamay

** art by @thisisaliceskinner, check her out too!

International day of the girl child - J at Mision Mexico, Tapachula, Mexico

Dear girls of Mexico, 

I’d like to dedicate this International Day of the Girl Child to the refuge of Mision Mexico and its 13 inspiring girls, and to the girls throughout this beautiful but progressive country. Although the girls in this refuge are lucky today, this wasn’t always the case, and unfortunately there are many other girls just like them. My dear girls, today is for you.

 

My main interest and area of research has been on inequalities and crimes against girls but mainly of those in Asia. Before coming to Mexico, I had very little knowledge of the gender injustices and inequalities felt throughout the country. Actually, statistics suggest that crimes against girls are extremely common in Mexico and run deep alongside the culture, drugs, tradition and machismo attitudes which are putting thousands of girls at risk every single day. These statistics include our girls at Mision Mexico.

Similar to much of Asia, Latin America portrays correlations between low levels of education and high levels of poverty with high level of crime. But the differences lie in the research, statistics, media coverage and report-making which when compared, seems almost non-existent in Latin America and especially Mexico. It’s no surprise that I knew so little about what it means to be a girl in Mexico, because there’s nothing to know about. No one’s writing about it. No one’s talking about it. Which means that no one’s stopping these injustices or supporting the girls who face difficulties that we can’t even begin to imagine. And for those that have tried in the past, their lives have been in grave danger and they’ve faced horrific consequences. Here are some statistics that I could find:

 

  • In Chihuahua, Mexico, 66% of murdered women are killed by their husbands, boyfriends and family members.
  • It’s estimated that 14,000 women are raped every year in Mexico. That’s 38 women and girls every day.
  • Statistics also suggest that 44% of women in Mexico will face some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. 91% of these cases will go unreported. And of the cases that are reported, not even 8% will end in conviction.
  • Sexual violence and torture remain as routine practice used by security forces like the Navy and the Army as well as the Mexican police. Reports by Amnesty International suggest horrific statistics and confessions by women who have been unlawfully arrested, raped, electrocuted and abused by officials in uniform. What hope do these women have?
  • Studies also suggest that Latin America is the worst place in the world to be a woman.

 

Femicide is a fairly new sociolegal term which I used almost every day in my last year at university, and its a term that can be best described for the 40,000 murdered Mexican women that occurred between 2000 and 2014. Femicide is the deliberate gender-based killing of a female. Put more simply, it’s where girls are killed for being girls.

Alongside this, there’s the harassment. The widespread and systematic act of sexual harassment is something that even I have felt during my time in Latin America, and its incomparable to anywhere else I’ve been in the world. It’s on the streets, it’s in the clubs, in public places, in shopping centres, it’s in Peru, in Colombia, in Brazil and in Mexico.

If the discrimination and lack of humanity is this obvious and common whether it be a too-close-for-comfort encounter on a bus or the murder and rape of feminist activists in their homes, then why is there not more data, research, policy plans, and solutions for our girls? This chart complied by the UN women shows the lack and missing amount of data for women in Mexico. The data doesn’t even exist.

International day of the girl child - Mexico
http://www.endvawnow.org/uploads/browser/files/vaw_prevalence_matrix_15april_2011.pdf International day of the girl child – Mexico

The 2017 International Day of the Girl Child’s focus is on data collection and analysis, and using this data to “adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.” (http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/)

 

Human trafficking, sexual slavery, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect and gender based stereotyping like how a girl should behave, are all experiences, knowledge and some of the backgrounds shared by our girls at Mision Mexico and in the city of Tapachula. The reality of a statistic actually having a face is one of the toughest things to come to terms with whilst volunteering here, but our girls now have lives filled with hope, love, choice and opportunity. Let’s make this a reality for all girls. 

Today you can make a difference. Equality, safety and crime-free lives are not impossible goals for our girls. You can help raise awareness by sharing this post or by checking out the links below. You can also donate, follow and volunteer with the girls and boys at Mision Mexico.

 

Thank you for your time!

Happy International Day of the Girl Child!

Vanisha

X

 

Instagram: @vanishamay

 

Mision Mexico

http://www.lovelifehope.com

https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/

Photograph credits to previous volunteers at Mision Mexico**

Global bodies, sex and stories from around the world.

“Every young person will one day have life-changing decisions to make about their sexual and reproductive health. Yet research shows that the majority of adolescents lack the knowledge required to make those decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.” -UNFPA

 

Sexual education improves the lives, dignity and knowledge for every single person in the world. Sexual education helps define healthy/unhealthy relationships, consent, safety and human rights which is vital knowledge for absolutely everyone. Right?

 

It’s no shocker that caught up in all the wrongs of the world are our young girls and women who are most at risks of HIV, aids, unwanted and unsafe pregnancies and abortions, STD’s, sexual assault and exploitation. This is especially unsurprising when 120 million girls don’t even have a basic education yet alone a sexual education.

130611115125-girls-education-intro-horizontal-large-gallery

Travelling is amazing and opens your eyes to many differences around the world including some of my main interests such as sex in society, prostitution, trafficking and how the women and girls of the world fit into all of this. It’s apparent that sexual education, knowledge and awareness is sometimes non-existent in many countries around the world.

 

This means that some girls around the world have their monthly periods and have no idea why they’re bleeding, if it’s normal, if it’s natural and what their body is even doing. It means that for some girls they are locked in their homes during these times, stopped from going to school and forced to using unsanitary solutions in shame.

 

This means that 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone various forms of female genital mutilation without the knowledge as to why they’re being mutilated, what their rights are, and even the full knowledge of why they have genitals in the first place.

 

This means that people are unaware of their right to consent and safety and are fully exploited by people who see dollar signs all over their female flesh. This means that people visiting brothels whether they’re in Amsterdam, India or London are usually unaware or don’t care that the human being who is there to ‘give them a good time’ is more than likely to be there not out of choice, but out of force, bribery, slavery, trafficking and fully stripped from their rights, safety and voice.

 

There are approximately 20-30 million slaves in the world today. 80% of these humans are sexually exploited. 80% of these humans are women and girls. Still not shocked?

17_humantraffic

Conversations with a friend in Peru brought to light the situation of women and contraception in the country. He explained how it’s mostly women prostitutes who are on the pill which completely took me back as a young woman on the pill herself. In the UK, most women I know are on some form of contraception and for so many different reasons. It shocked me that perhaps the knowledge and availability of contraception might not be accessible or encouraged for all females, and not just sex workers.

 

This also reminded me of my experience with a man in Indonesia who hosted me and a friend and allowed us to attend a double circumsion ceremony for two boys aged 11 and 7. The conversations that followed will always be with me. He spoke about how his wife every month has bloody clothes but was unsure why. Especially surprising as they had two children together including a daughter who had also undergone FGM. Yet, he had no knowledge about the female body, what happened at his children’s births, why his wife has bloody clothes every month, and also how sex can be for pleasure and not just for reproduction. The knowledge and tradition that he did possess was that the female genital is actually seen to be ‘unclean’ in his community and is in a much better state once cut or mutilated.

 

As a woman who has grown up in a country where sex education may be basic but still teaches all the essentials, where I freely and openly talk about my body, health, sex and sexuality with my friend, family, nurses and teachers, where my further studies have opened my eyes to the dangers surrounding the female body regarding rape, FGM, assault, and inequalities, it never crossed my mind that these girls I want to protect and the men who live beside them might not even know how to have sex, or what a period even is.

 

“If an 11-year-old girl arrives in hospital pregnant, nobody says anything,” says Alvaro Serrano, director of the region for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). “Women and girls are dying because of poor sex education.” – The Guardian

 

Girl_protesting_child_marriage

It’s a pretty deep topic but further conversations with some European backpackers about their experiences with prostitutes, their ridiculous expectations and their absolute disrespect and disregard for the humans interacting with them spurred me on to further research, share my stories and help raise awareness on the importance of sexual education for everyone worldwide. Sexual education should not be based around fear, shame, religion or tradition but around health, dignity, humanity and for all those most affected, especially our women and girls. 

tackel_demand3_600_600_55-e1501482230481.jpg

What are your thoughts on sexual education? Is it helpful for young people? Are there any alternatives? Do you have any experiences that you want to share or talk about?

 

Feel free to drop me a message!

You can also follow my South American adventures on instagram @vanishamay

 

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

X

 

My list of used resources and helpful websites…

On menstruation:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/periods-around-the-world

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/menstruation-themed-photo-series-artist-censored-by-instagram-says-images-are-to-demystify-taboos-10144331.html

On sex ed:

https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/international-sex-education/

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/may/20/six-best-sex-education-programmes-around-the-world

https://plan-uk.org/

http://www.unfpa.org/comprehensive-sexuality-education

https://www.bustle.com/articles/80266-5-places-around-the-world-where-sex-education-is-improving-because-comprehensive-and-progressive-programs-do

https://www.aasect.org/evolving-state-sexuality-education-around-world

On trafficking and the rest:

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs364/en/

What is FGM? Everything you need to know to join the fight against it.

FGM is rarely spoken about, heard about or known about. But why is this the case when it affects over 200 million women and girls? How can we have gender inequality when 200 million women and girls are violated every single day through the practices of FGM?

 

So what is it?
FGM stands for female genital mutilation. It’s the intentional harm, alteration and/or injury to the female genitals. Globally, over 200 million women and girls have been cut with many more at risk. FGM is a violation of human rights for girls and women.

WHO have identified 4 main types of FGM:
Type I – Clitoridectomy
This which sees partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce.

FGM

Type II – Excision
Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora. The amount of tissue removed varies from community to community.

FGM 2

Type III – Infibulation
The narrowing of the vaginal orifice with a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and re-positioning the labia minora and/ or the labia majora. Can take place with or without the removal of the clitoris.

FGM 3.1FGM 3.2FGM 3.3

Type IV
All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.

Why is it performed?
FGM is a manifestation of deeply entrenched gender inequality. It is mainly practiced in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but affects girls worldwide, including here in the UK. It’s supported and practiced by both men and women, with the common belief being that the cultural and social benefits outweigh the risk and dangers. (WHO 2008).

The reasons given for practicing FGM generally fall into four categories:

Psychosexual reasons: FGM is carried out to control women’s sexuality, which is sometimes completely affected leaving women feeling no sense of pleasure depending on the cut. It is thought to ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward, and to increase male sexual pleasure.

Sociological and cultural reasons: In some communities, FGM is a part of a girl’s initiation into womanhood, it’s a huge part of tradition. The myths that an uncut clitoris will grow to the size of a penis, or will increase fertility, help promote the practice.

Hygiene and aesthetic reasons: In some communities, the external female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed, ostensibly to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal.

Socio-economic factors: In many communities, FGM is a requirement for marriage. Where women are largely dependent on men, economic necessity can be a major driver of the procedure. It’s also a major income source for the ‘cutters’.

Why is FGM different to circumcision for boys?
For women and girls there are immediate and lifelong complications. Immediate complications include:
– Severe pain, shock, haemorrhage, tetanus or infection, urine retention, wound infection, urinary infection, and septicaemia. The haemorrhage and infections can be severe enough to cause death.
Long-term consequences include:
– As well as medical complications such as anaemia, the formation of cysts and abscesses, keloid scar formation, damage to the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and complications during childbirth, FGM has severe psychological effects.

Type III (infibulation) creates a physical barrier which makes sexual intercourse, childbirth, menstruation and even urinating difficult. Women are often cut open for sex and childbirth because there’s simply no space for anything to come in or out.

The procedure and effects of FGM are extremely harmful and severe. The hidden practice effects girls worldwide and is not spoken about enough. As well as protecting and supporting the survivors of FGM, we need to be raising awareness and providing the knowledge that FGM is wrong, dangerous and fatal.


You can do your bit here:

– Look at Aida Silvestri’s ‘Unsterile Clinic. A project to help raise awareness of the practice of FGM.
– Watch Call The Midwife (Season 6, Episode 6).
– Read Cut: One Woman’s Fight Against FGM in Britain Today by Hibo Wardere
– Support organisations and NGO’s like
http://www.dofeve.org
http://28toomany.org/
https://plan-uk.org/about/our-work/fgm

 

Thanks for reading!

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Vanisha

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