INTERVIEW AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITY:
University of Leicester Fielding Johnson South Wing, The Ogden Lewis Seminar Suite 1, at 13:15 on the 18th June 2011.
Ms Sadiyo Siad, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD Candidate at the University of Leicester
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eva Organization for Women (EOW)
Address: 294 Victoria Road East, Leicester. LE5 0LF. UK
Tel: 0843 309 1625
Fax: 0843 309 1624
Girls from the UK are being subjected to illegal genital mutilation, despite the devastating consequences, a University of Leicester postgraduate student claims.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other non-medical injury to the female genital organs. FGM is carried out for cultural and religious traditions, but is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
Sadiyo Siad is spearheading a campaign to highlight the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through a national conference to be held at the University of Leicester on 18 June 2011 to highlight the impact on victims and to provoke local and international discussion on the issue.
The event is organised by Eva Organization for Women (EOW) and supported by the University of Leicester and various community groups in Leicester. The conference is open to the public but people should first register on EOW website at: http://www.evaorganizationforwomen.org/page62.html.
Speakers from the medical and legal professions, local communities, religious scholars, human rights experts, will provide different perspectives on the human impact of FGM. A key feature of the conference is testimonies from the victims of FGM, who tell of the mental and physical anguish caused by the procedure and the lasting damage FGM inflicts
Sadiyo said: “FGM creates massive health problems for women experiencing it. While illegal, FGM is a highly sensitive cultural issue that is rarely discussed in the everyday media and so not enough light is shed on the consequences of the procedure to reduce the practice. This is one of the reasons why FGM still occurs. Most parents who allow their daughters to have this procedure sincerely believe that it is in their daughters’ best interests – it is seen as more hygienic and protecting them from false accusations that can lead them to never being able to marry and have a family. We don’t want to blame – we want to inform. I sincerely believe that when our communities are made aware of the devastating consequences of FGM they will see that it is in their daughters’ best interests NOT to practice FGM.”
Sadiyo said that in February of this year, the UK Government set out clear guidelines on tackling and preventing FGM. Unfortunately, after such high hopes were raised, following the publication of the recent guideline revisions the government has abolished the Whitehall post of FGM co-ordinator, leaving charities worried that raising awareness among professionals at a local level, where the issue is often still not understood, will be compromised. There are still girls who are cut in the UK and other European countries, also Australia and North America at large, while other girls may be taken abroad in the summer holidays and mutilated.
Sadiyo added: “This conference aims to raise a higher level of public awareness of FGM and to allow the voices of women, who either have been a victim of FGM or are at risk of undergoing the procedure, to be heard. In addition, the conference aims to build a lasting dialogue between the communities who practise FGM and religious scholars, health care professionals and the local authorities. The time has come to move forward and face the reality. FGM is a painful reality and we need to educate ourselves and those whom we live with, so that FGM will never be practised again.”
Comfort Momoh (a UK midwife and FGM Consultant) said: “Young girls in the UK come to me and say: ‘we don’t understand why they are doing this to us. They are supposed to be our loved ones, our mother, aunts and grandmothers’.” Comfort also said: “A lot of young girls don’t know the types and differences of FGM. Some of them don’t even know that they’ve had it done.”
Salado, (a survivor of FGM), said: “Different people have tried to raise FGM awareness but nothing like this has ever been done before in Leicester where large FGM-practising communities are based. Having this conference at the University of Leicester where representatives from different sectors are under the same roof to make dialogue and to educate in order to eradicate FGM is revolutionary for us. Our community need not shy away from the fact that we need to be educated.”
Dr Primrose Freestone, a lecturer at the University of Leicester, has been helping Sadiyo organise the FGM conference. She said: “At the University of Leicester we believe strongly in supporting our students, not only in terms of their research, but also in activities of wider importance to society. I am very proud of the work that Sadiyo has been pioneering to raise the public awareness of FGM, and I share with her the hope that this conference will open up a community dialogue that will finally lead to the end of FGM.”
Birgit Lewis, the Student Volunteering Co-ordinator at the University of Leicester said: “The University’s Enterprising Volunteers project set out to help students, with a burning passion for a community issue, to enable them to realise their idea. It is a privilege to work with students so inspiring and passionate as Sadiyo who have the courage to spearhead a campaign on a sensitive issue such as FGM.”
Following the FGM conference, whose proceedings will be published on a DVD and in a booklet, EOW will continue its mission to educate about the consequences of FGM by organising workshops and seminars, publishing information sheets, and by bringing the message of the FGM conference to TV and other media outlets.
· The Conference on the human impact of Female Genital Mutilation takes place at University of Leicester, June 18th, 2011 from 11am – 4pm. It will be held in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building South Wing, University of Leicester.
You can read a blog about the issue here.
Note to newsdesk:
At least 26 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, a few countries in the Middle East and Asia practice FGM. Somalia, Egypt and Sudan are at the top of this list. Despite its illegality, immigrants from these countries to Europe, North America, and Australia continue to practice FGM in their adopted countries.
An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the often devastating consequences of FGM. 92 million of these are in Africa.
3 million girls still undergo FGM each year worldwide.
66,000 UK women have undergone FGM and at least 22,000 UK girls are considered as being at risk of enforced FGM.
Eva Organization for Women (EOW) is a voluntary, non-profit organization whose mission is to support, empower, encourage and motivate women, children and families from all backgrounds and walks of life.
Through close collaboration with many different public sector experts, bilingual community leaders and local spokespersons, EOW crafts to advocating the development of women, and young girls to help them make their future brighter; to gain equal rights and opportunities; to excel academically; to acquire and maintain physical and mental health; to become more ‘politically-aware’ citizens; to become socially and economically confident within their communities.
The purpose of EOW is to offer support services in One Place (all services under one roof) that help practically, so that women and young girls can increase in confidence and assertiveness, and take charge of their lives. These empowering processes are the key to breaking down the societal barriers that hinder their future achievements.
EOW strongly believes that every woman and young girl has the right to learn, and to enjoy physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and that the health and the well-being of individuals, families and communities as a whole are intertwined.
EOW’s core value is to empower women, children and families regardless of their race, marital status, ethnicity, nationality, religion, creed or political affiliations.
EOW firmly believes women are the core “heart” of families and thriving communities and are key to creating a supportive environment, providing foundations for success and individual empowerment.
For more information, please contact:
Eva Organization for Women (EOW)
Address: 294 Victoria Road East, Leicester LE5 0LF. UK
Tele: 0843 309 1625
Fax: 0843 309 1624
About those attending:
Abu Usamah, Khalifah At-Thahabi was born and raised in New Jersey USA. He is an Iman at Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham,UK.
Mrs Alice Mapiye Musiiwa is originally from Zimbabwe and is a church officer at New Harvest Community Church, Leicester. She works as a Nursing Sister for the NHS Trust.
Dr Cornelia Wiesender is a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, working at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Her clinical interests include: High risk Obstetrics (Labour Ward Lead); Female Genital Mutilation; Female Chronic Pelvic Pain Dr Wiesender provides a service together with Midwife Ann Buckley at Leicester Royal Infirmary for women who have undergone FGM.
Carol McCormick is Consultant Midwife and Supervisor of Midwives at Nottingham University Hospitals. She has worked in the Middle East and Africa as a midwife; Carol’s substantial experience has enabled her to set up a pathway and service for women in Nottingham who have undergone FGM. The clinic was established in 2006. She also provides inter-agency links and training on FGM issues.
Dr Nimatullah Omoteso (Nimah Omoteso) is a Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, East Midlands Deanery, currently working at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. She has a BSc and MBBS from University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Comfort Momoh, MBE is a specialist midwife, based at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, who has dedicated her professional life to helping women who have been maimed by FGM and specialises in reversing the procedure. Her work has now been given national recognition as she has been awarded the annual Emma Humphrey prize.