Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: Introduction

This book is not a comfortable read, nor has it been an easy book to write.

The subject is of itself both exceedingly unpleasant and very distressing to contemplate, even at a safely cerebral distance. Close up or at first hand female genital mutilation (FGM) is traumatising: harrowing to observe and painful beyond endurance to experience directly. It is sometimes lethal and often permanently damaging, both physically and psychologically. its consequences carry on through generations, as women who have undergone FGM encounter obstetric problems, and their children – boys and girls, both – in turn are more likely than others to die, or to live lives marred by their difficult entry into the world.

Every eleven seconds a girl baby, child or young woman somewhere in the world undergoes genital mutilation, often by force and without pain relief or asepsis. FGM is a global epidemic of immense proportions; 3 million mutilations are estimated to be carried out every year….

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 1: Demography and Epidemiology of FGM

Female genital mutilation is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women as discussed in the Introduction, it is a criminal and potentially lethal, almost always harmful, assault, both on a person’s body and on her mind.

Whilst however there is no dispute about the status of this abuse, ascertaining with any precision the incidence of female genital mutilation in any location (including the UK) is difficult, given both its general illegality and the intimate nature of the practice itself. Estimations of how frequently FGM occurs, and of the likelihood of risk for given populations, inevitably require informed guesswork and a considerable degree of sensitivity to the issues as they are interrogated.  

The damage caused by FGM is intensely personal and private, and even more so because the subjects are (most usually) minors who cannot give meaningful consent either to the procedure itself, or to any subsequent proposed medical examination. 

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Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation Chapter 11: UK Politics and the Media

There are various participants in the journey to end female genital mutilation in the UK. Most, but certainly not all, would align with the declared, socially progressive assumptions of this text. All except the most radical apologist or traditionalist seek somehow to eradicate FGM. The commonality of aim but discrepancies of perspective do, however, come into sharp relief when issues of politics, media and culture are considered.

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