|Kate Holt/Shoot The Earth/ActionAid|
The 6th of February is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. You might believe that it has very little (if anything) to do with you. After all, we keep moaning about the weather, British men, the cost of life in London, and so on, and so forth. Come to think of it, we are indulging in very first world problems, right? As much as I believe that sexism is still rife in Europe (I like rugby, but the rugby team mentality in the workplace is not always nice...or appropriate, right?), even I have to admit that my very selfish problems are nothing, absolutely nothing compared to what some women go through. Well, from time to time, we need to care for each other. That's why I have teamed up with Action Aid today (I am one of their ambassadors and I sponsor a child in India with them). You can support their campaign here. Here is what they have to say:
6th February International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation – is about raising awareness of the practise – encouraging people to take a stand and to help eradicate it.
Female genital mutilation is the deliberate mutilation of the female genitalia – commonly carried out on girls between the ages of four and twelve. It can cause severe bleeding, infection, infertility and death and currently more than 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects that’s more than double the UK population. The practise is unnecessary.
Here’s one girl’s story:
Christine, 17 years old, was subjected to female genital mutilation when she was 15, before being forced to marry a much older man.
“My mother and brothers said it was the only thing for my future. When it had been done to me and I was in seclusion, an old man came to my brothers and gave him 15 cows to marry me.
“When the time came for the marriage ceremony his relatives and some guards carried me away. I didn’t want to go and cried. The old man had a wife before me too. She was much older and just treated me like one of her children.
“On my first night in the house with the old man we were left alone together. He forced himself on me and I felt so much pain that I cried [I will spare you the rest. Suffice to say that, if Christine had been my daughter, I would have begged her to forgive me for the rest of my life]”
Christine escaped the house and ran to Kongelai where she sought help from the head of the mixed primary school who subsequently contacted ActionAid. By working with the Kongelai Women’s Network, ActionAid was able to help Christine find a place at school. The chief of Christine’s village was contacted and alerted to what had happened and her family is beginning to accept the wrongdoing. Christine is building a relationship with her family.
All Christine needed was one person to care for her, understand what she had been through, and help her to rebuild her life. Action Aid is creating such a network. Because, come to think of it, don't you think that we all need a helping hand from time to time? Who has never ever needed help? It is not always plain sailing, right? So be generous, contribute to the campaign or simply help spreading the word. Thank you.