Garden Court recently held an evening of inspiring talks about the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) involving key activists, lawyers and health workers. The event was coordinated by Maria Moodie and Dexter Dias QC of Garden Court, along with the Fabian Women's Network.
The panel members, who discussed the ways in which their lives and work have been affected by FGM, included Leyla Hussein, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, Naana Otoo-Oyortey MBE, Diane Abbott MP, Stephanie Akomeah, and barristers Dexter Dias QC and Malek Wan Daud of Garden Court.
The event was timed to coincide with the announcement that the Crown Prosecution Service will be bringing the first ever prosecutions over FGM in the UK. It also coincided with the introduction of new regulations which mean that, as of 1 April 2014, all health professionals must register incidents of FGM.
Dexter spoke about the report on FGM he co-authored to the Home Affairs Select Committee and highlighted that the UK has been in breach of its international obligations to protect women and girls, and will be so until an effective mechanism is in place to prevent FGM. He applauded the bravery of co-panellist Leyla Hussein, who spoke passionately about her own experience of undergoing FGM.
Other issues discussed by the panel included the importance of raising awareness of FGM amongst young people, and the small degree of progress that has been made since the passage of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985.
The evening concluded with a talk by Diane Abbott MP who highlighted that central to eradicating FGM, are the issues of raising awareness and consciousness, and focussing on care and support of at-risk women and survivors. It was clear from all the speakers' contributions that if girls are to be protected, then a multi-faceted, culturally-sensitive prevention strategy must involve actors from the health, education, social work and law enforcement agencies working together.
To read more about this event, please visit the Garden Court blog.
To find out more and to join the campaign to end FGM, visit the websites of Daughters of Eve, FORWARD and The Orchid Project. Leyla Hussein's Bafta-nominated documentary, The Cruel Cut, is available online.