A new campaign group in Bradford will help raise awareness of the dangerous practice of female genital mutilation.
On Monday a group will come together to plan an awareness campaign in the city. It aims to educate both the communities in which FGM is still practiced, and the wider population – many of whom know little about the issue.
FGM, also known as female circumcision, is a common practice in many African countries, and because of migration is now becoming an issue the Western world.
Side effects can include infections, menstrual problems, infertility and post traumatic stress disorder.
Despite being made illegal in 1985, there has never been a prosecution for FGM in the UK. Nigerian-born Yemi Fagborun, 56, CEO of the West Bowling-based charity Peacemaker International, says the issue needs to be taken more seriously, and needs to be addressed in practicing communities – no matter how controversial.
Mrs Fagborun underwent the practice as a baby and says because so few people questioned it in her culture she did not realise it was frowned upon by the medical community until she came to study in the UK.
She is a part of the new campaign – called “Leaving it Intact.”
It will offer training to give people a better understanding of the condition, advice to spot girls who may be at risk and give support.
The most recent figures show that up to 120 women in Bradford visited doctors due to FGM in an 18-month period. But Mrs Fagborun said the scale was mostly hidden due to cultural sensibilities. And authorities were often afraid to discuss the issue in case they were seen as discriminating against different cultures. She said: “I know of people who have suffered mental health problems because of the procedure.
“A lot of African women are brought up not to talk about sex so they can’t discuss it. In a lot of cultures this practice has happened for years – that is where the difficulty in trying to stop it comes from.”
Mrs Fagborun underwent FGM in her home country shortly after she was born. It was at a time when the procedure was the norm, and carried out in government buildings.
The campaign is being launched at an International Women’s Day event at Bowling Old Cricket Club between noon and 4pm on Thursday, March 6. Call (01274) 736859.