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Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation – here’s 6 ways you can help the cause

Warning: This article contains distressing content.

Tuesday marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), but what can you do to stop this brutal practice on young girls and women?

FGM is the cutting and removal of women’s genitalia for no medical purpose. It can include removal or partial removal of a woman’s external genitalia, narrowing of the vaginal opening and other harmful procedures like pricking or cauterising the genital area.

According to women’s rights charity Forward, 137,000 girls and women in the UK are living with FGM and over 130 million worldwide have undergone an FGM procedure.

The practice is recognised globally as a violation of human rights with no health benefits and is illegal in the UK.

If you want to help the UN end the practice by 2030, here are some of the things you can do.

1. Know your stuff.

There are four types of FGM:

– Type 1: When the clitoris or clitoral hood are cut off.
– Type 2: When the clitoris and inner lips are cut off.
– Type 3: When the clitoris, inner lips and outer lips are cut and sewn together or sealed, leaving only a small opening for urination and to release the girl or woman’s period.
– Type 4: All other harmful practices which could include scraping, burning, piercing, cutting or pricking of female genitalia.

FGM takes place in more than 28 African nations as well as parts of the Middle East, South East Asia, America and Europe, largely where migrants from FGM-affected communities settle. It is usually performed on girls between the ages of five and eight, though this does vary depending on the community.

2. Be aware of what to do if someone you know is at risk.

Although school holidays are the most at-risk time for girls to become victims of FGM, it can occur at any time.

If you are concerned about your own safety or the safety of someone you know, Forward recommends seeking support from the NSPCC’s specialist FGM support line on: 0800 028 3550, or contacting your local Police Child Protection Unit.

If in doubt, or you need more advice, you can call Forward on 0208 960 4000.

3. Share this video.

The cutesy, cerise vibe of Integrate UK‘s  anti-FGM video belies the serious message within the lyrics – FGM is not OK, in any form.

Share this video made by young people to highlight the issue and get your friends and family thinking about the issue.

4. Look at the #MetooFGM hashtag and support those sharing their stories.

Ifrah Ahmed launches #MeTooFGM, a worldwide social media campaign against female genital mutilation (Niall Carson/PA)

On Tuesday, you can support the launch of #MeTooFGM, a global online campaign against the practice.

Taking inspiration from the personal stories of sexual harassment and violence shared online through the #MeToo movement, the campaign wants to reach as many people as possible by asking social media users to tweet the same message at 2pm on Tuesday.

5. Download this app.


If you want to learn more about FGM and how you can help, use the Petals web app from Coventry University. It contains stories from survivors, quizzes and contacts to get in touch with.

6. Donate.

There are a number of FGM-focused charities to donate to, including 28 Too Many, Forward, Daughters of Eve and Beyond FGM, among others. Do your research and support the charity which appeals most to you, or perhaps take part in a charity event to raise money.

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