Let us make one thing very clear from the start:
THIS IS NOT A PRO-CIRCUMCISION CAMPAIGN.
Our campaign was set up by a group of like-minded people who are deeply concerned with the way in which the “anti-FGM” campaign and its consequences have impacted negatively on ethnic African communities in the UK. Our origin is in the British Somali diaspora, which is the most seriously affected community, but our members include women with heritage from other African and Middle-Eastern countries, Caucasian British, and even some men. Many of us have been circumcised in our countries of origin, others are uncircumcised, and we have differing individual experiences and views on the custom. We are, however, united in the view that the dominant “anti-FGM” campaign is based largely on an outdated narrative which grossly misrepresents the true facts, and has seriously misled the British public, the media and the government, leading to the present situation in which ethnic minority families are being racially profiled and subjected to highly damaging interventions in misguided attempts to “safeguard” girls from a practice which has already been abandoned by their communities in the UK.
The “anti-FGM” movement in the UK was started in the 1980’s by a small group of uncircumcised African women, who were rapidly joined by white feminists with little or no understanding of the cultures in which female circumcision was practiced. At the time the movement was justified in that it was common in immigrant communities for young girls to be sent back to their parents’ countries of origin to be circumcised, often in a primitive traditional manner. This was highly traumatic for girls accustomed to western norms, and was inappropriate for the society in which they were now living. This was also recognized within the immigrant communities and, surprisingly rapidly and of their own accord, within a generation they largely abandoned the practice.
The “anti-FGM” activists, applying their western feminist perspective with no respect for the implicated communities, employed highly emotive terminology and unjustified generalizations and exaggerations to portray female circumcision as a barbaric practice with disastrous consequences for all affected girls and women. This is, in general, completely untrue, but politicians ignorant of the true facts uncritically accepted the activists’ narrative and hastily passed increasingly severe laws to criminalize the practice. (See “FGM Myths” and “The Law”.)
In recent years activists have become increasingly vociferous in pointing out that there has not been a single successful prosecution under these laws, and demanding increased vigilance and intervention to prevent what they claim to be a hidden FGM epidemic in which thousands of British girls are at risk of barbaric mutilation. It appears not to have occurred to them that the absence of prosecutions could be an indicator that, in fact, their campaign has been successful and British immigrant communities have abandoned the practice. Instead they have redoubled their efforts to convince Government, Social Services, the Police, and other public and charitable agencies that there is a huge hidden problem which requires new initiatives and increased public funding. We cannot help wondering whether their true motivation is the fact that they have built up a large “anti-FGM industry” which each year receives tens of millions of pounds in public and charitable funding, enabling them to live comfortably on generous salaries and receive awards for their activities.
If this was just a waste of public money it would be scandalous, however it has now developed into a crusade with all the characteristics of a medieval witch-hunt, in which communities are being stigmatized and racially profiled for highly damaging interventions by Social Services and the Police. There is a “feeding frenzy” to achieve the first successful prosecution for FGM in which, at the slightest suspicion, loving families are torn apart for “safeguarding”, with children put into “social care” and innocent parents arrested and imprisoned for long periods, all in the interest of addressing a problem which no longer exists. Few things can be so damaging to family well being and the life chances of affected children. The fact that this is being done purely to serve the interest of the self-serving and self-perpetuating “anti-FGM industry” and the activists who live comfortably off its generous funding from the taxpayer, is absolutely disgraceful.
Our campaign therefore aims to challenge the sensationalist “anti-FGM” narrative and its destructive impact on targeted families and communities, and to let the public hear the true voices of circumcised women and their communities which have been suppressed by biased and extremist campaigning in media and political circles.