A new series of self-authored short films by Londoners affected by female genital mutilation (FGM) are to be promoted by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, as part of his grassroots ‘FGM Stops Here’ community outreach campaign to end this illegal and barbaric practice.
The new ‘FGM Stops Here’ videos by FGM survivors, family members, medical professionals and campaigners from across the capital’s diverse communities, highlights the determination of Londoners to end the practice and demonstrate the devastating impact FGM has on the lives and wellbeing of survivors and their families.
The Mayor is amplifying their voices to help change attitudes towards the harmful and illegal practice.
The films will premiere online ahead of International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Monday, 6 February.
FGM violates the rights of women and girls and can have lasting consequences for their physical and mental health. Research shows that while there has only ever been one prosecution for FGM in London, it is an issue that affects women and girls across the capital with more than 2,000 patients being treated after undergoing the practice between April 2021 and March 2022.
The Mayor’s work to support the ‘FGM Stops Here’ movement has been led by the Mayor’s advisory board of FGM experts including survivors, frontline professionals and activists. They have worked together to share the personal stories of Londoners on why they are looking to stop the practice, through films, posters and leaflets. These materials are being distributed to over 50 community centres, places of worship, colleges, clinics and hospitals in communities across the 11 London boroughs where FGM is most prevalent .
In a roundtable event at City Hall, the Mayor met with members of his FGM Advisory Board and community members who have lent their personal stories to the campaign to discuss what more can be done to help tackle this issue and keep women and girls safe from harmful practices.
Since 2016, he has overseen over £2.2million of investment in community-led training and specialist services for women affected by FGM and other harmful practices across the capital, and supported the implementation of London’s first free telephone support line for victims and survivors of FGM and other harmful practices.
Mr. Khan, said: “The safety of women and girls is a top priority and I am clear that there cannot be any place whatsoever in London for FGM, which is a life threatening, illegal and devastating practice.
“That’s why I am joining forces with grassroots campaigners to give a voice to survivors, frontline professionals and activists. A new series of online short films will talk directly to communities on the dangers and impact that FGM has on women, girls and their loved ones.
“It is vital we have a public health approach to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls in London, to ensure it is treated with the utmost urgency – not just by the police but by society as a whole so together we can build a safer London for everyone.”
Sema Gornall, CEO of The Vavengers charity, said: "We are excited to be part of the MOPAC campaign 'FGM Stops Here'. Campaigns like these reach out to the most vulnerable members of our community, giving survivors of Gender-Based Violence a platform to speak up. Ending FGM and all other forms of Violence Against Women and Girls requires everyone's input and we hope this campaign gives that ownership to all Londoners."
Shamsa Araweelo is a trainee police officer and a young mother. In her video, she says: “I am a survivor of FGM but I am also a Mum and today I want survivors of this practice to use their voice to take control back of their lives and motivate each other to end this practice faster.”
In her video, Soraya Ali, who is a trustee and co-founder of The Vavengers charity, says: “I was actually the first women in my family not to undergo FGM and now I campaign to support other survivors because I believe other survivors shouldn’t be alone in having to stop FGM. It should be all of our responsibilities to protect women’s health and wellbeing.”
Ameen Ali’s wife is a survivor of FGM, but it has meant she isn’t able to have children. He says: “Having been married to a woman for 17 years who has undergone FGM and further surgeries to then be told that we cannot have children, cannot be told in 20 seconds. Men, let’s end FGM.”