Some children in the UK have spent months on child protection plans – or in foster care – on the false suspicion they are victims of female genital mutilation. Dr Faye Kirkland reports for BBC Newsnight and The World at One.
Moderator: Muna Mona Ibrahim
Speaker: Bilaan Mahdi ( Zainab)
Speaker: Olly Roti (Wura)
Hidden Voices UK
The ambitious anti-FGM movement that ensued and which actively operates in the UK and internationally, claims to have made great strides in helping to reduce the incidence of this harmful, traditional practice worldwide. Whilst that reduction is welcome, legislative initiatives, policies, surveillance, awareness – raising, and the drive to prosecute have resulted in some Black Communities in the UK being specifically targeted and feeling their effects disproportionately.
A campaign group called Hidden Voices UK 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 We are, however, united in the view that the dominant “anti-FGM” campaign is based largely on an outdated narrative which grossly misrepresents the true facts, and has seriously misled the British public, the media and the government, leading to the present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.
Parents are wrongly being arrested and having their children taken into care due to the stigma around female genital mutilation (FGM), members of the UK Somali community have told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. They say figures suggesting tens of thousands of girls are at risk in the UK are inaccurate.
Former social worker and Somali campaigner Zainab Nur, from the Hayaat Women Trust, said she knew more than a dozen cases where children were wrongly taken into care because of FGM risk. “These policies are having a massive impact,” she said. “We’re being victimized, we’re being racially profiled as being at risk of FGM, and it’s affecting us.”
She also says she knows hundreds of cases where families were wrongly being referred to safeguarding.