FGM – Progress?


Content Warning: This article contains discussion of female genital mutilation and abuse.


Fact: Over three thousand FGM survivors live in Scotland[1].

Fact: the first FGM prosecution in the UK was in February 2015.[2] The accused was acquitted[3].


In the United Kingdom, governmental response to female genital mutilation has been abysmal at best. As recently as 2013, a BBC investigation suggested the UK was viewed as a soft touch area; young girls were trafficked from England and Wales to Scotland, to be mutilated without fear of persecution.


Fortunately, long-overdue action is being taken. Although it took hundreds upon thousands of signatures, Scottish teachers and parents have been educated about FGM. In March last year, Nicola Sturgeon announced funding to the tune of two hundred and twenty thousand pounds for charities working to educate and support ‘high-risk’ communities where FGM is an embedded cultural practice. It may be late, but both moves are crucial; to quote Leyla Hussein, FGM survivor and campaigner – ‘education has always been the missing link in the fight against FGM. ‘[4]


When the Philanthrobeats’ ‘End FGM Now’ event was launched, many commenters conflated male circumcision and FGM. You may have thought the same. Confusion may stem in part from linguistics – until the 1980s, FGM was called Female Genital Circumcision, considerably more palatable and primarily associated with men. Circumcision – the removal of a man’s foreskin, usually at a young age – is primarily carried out as a religious rite. However, the practice has been found to carry health benefits, from the relatively banal – improving personal hygiene – to reducing the spread of HIV. As a result of these two factors, one third of the male population are circumcised.


Female genital mutilation is child abuse. With no health benefits, it exists as a patriarchal tool to ensure young women are pure for their husbands. Survivors are faced with cysts, infected wombs, urination issues, and blood loss[5]. Many are left with lifelong psychological trauma. The two practices of male circumcision and FGM are incomparable; doing so invalidates the experience of the millions of brave women who have survived.


This anecdote has a happy ending – after some lengthy online debates, the differences were made clear. It’s time now to use education to end FGM. The most important teachers are the charities and initiatives working in high-risk communities; if they are given the resources to inform and empower, hundreds of young women can be saved.

Words – Marco Biagini and James McAleer


Philanthrobeats are hosting an Anti Valentines night at Proud Mary, Glasgow, with Night of The Jaguar, Hush, Cleoslaptra, and Tanganyika. All proceeds will go towards charities working in high-risk areas.

11pm – 13/02/16





[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24915967

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/04/first-female-genital-mutilation-prosecution-dhanuson-dharmasena-fgm

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/04/doctor-not-guilty-fgm-dhanuson-dharmasena

[4] : http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/07/female-genital-mutilation-scotland-schools-headteacher-fgm

[5] : http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/