Putting our Best Foot FORWARD to Help Raise Awareness of FGM

On 19th May, Savoo pros Flora and Adam went along for a volunteer day at the charity FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development), and were tasked with helping the charity prepare educational packs for teachers and trainers to take to schools.

These packs were designed to help educate and inform children, teenagers and adults about female genital mutilation (FGM).

Forward charity day

And unsurprisingly, this volunteering experience turned out to be an educational process for us too.

Here we’ll share what we’ve learned about FGM, what needs to be done, and what could be happening right under our noses here in the UK today.

What is FGM?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of a girl’s external genitalia for non-medical reasons.

We were surprised to learn that there are four different types of FGM:

  • Type 1: the clitoris or the clitoral hood is removed (excision, sometimes called sunna)
  • Type 2: the clitoris and the inner lips are removed
  • Type 3: the clitoris, inner lips, and outer lips are cut and sewn together or sealed leaving only a small opening (infibulation or sometimes called pharaonic circumcision)
  • Type 4: all other harmful practices, which could include pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning of female genitalia

Why is FGM practised?

There are many reasons why FGM happens in certain cultures and communities, but often reasons include: cultural tradition or social expectation; protection of a girl’s virginity; desexualisation; misinterpretation of religion; and hygiene.

FGM is a harmful practice that can result in serious physical and emotional health problems.

Where is it happening?

FGM is happening all over the world, with prevalent countries including Africa, and instances of the practice recorded in Asia and South America. UNICEF estimates that around 200 million women worldwide have undergone some form of Female Genital Mutilation.

We were shocked to learn that FGM happens right here in the UK, with research estimating that 60,000 girls under the age of 15 are at high risk of FGM in England and Wales.

It is the duty of frontline professionals to respond and protect girls at risk of FGM, which is why FORWARD has stepped in to help educate and inform school teachers of the dangers, warning signs and preventative steps necessary to help stop FGM. As well as safeguarding, teachers are also fundamental in helping FORWARD raise awareness of FGM in the UK.

Helping schools to be FORWARD thinking about FGM

FORWARD can offer specialist services to primary schools including:

  • Staff Training this includes basic FGM information, identifying and safeguarding girls at risk, providing support for those affected by FGM.
  • Parent sessions engaging, educating and empowering parents to work within their communities.
  • Pupil awareness sessions
  • One-to-one Support for young people affected by FGM.
  • Help for pupils wanting to take further action on FGM.

Helping spread the word about Female Genital Mutilation

If you’d like to volunteer at FORWARD or help raise awareness of the realities of FGM, you can get in touch with their team today.

If you’d like to raise money in support of FORWARD which in turn, will help raise awareness of, and reduce the devastating effects of FGM, you can fundraise for free every time you shop or search online at Savoo.co.uk. Find out more and start supporting FORWARD for free today.

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