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Summit to end Female Genital Mutilation and forced marriage

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On the 22nd July the UK will host the ‘Girl Summit’ as part of a campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. The Summit, held in conjunction with UNICEF, will aim to mobilise national and international efforts to end these appalling practices.

I feel strongly about these issues and fully support the campaign. It is imperative that government take more wide-reaching measures to end FGM practices, particularly in light of recent reports that as many as 24,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are estimated to be at risk. More locally, it is very troubling that Sheffield has been identified as one of the British cities where the practise is most prevalent.

Female Genital Mutilation is a brutal form of child abuse, leaving girls with a future of pain. Girls who are subjected to it face infertility; pain during urination, menstruation, and sexual intercourse for the rest of their lives. There are possible complications during childbirth, at its worst, it can be life-threatening.

The ‘Girl Summit’ will campaign to end all forms of forced marriage. This is shockingly common worldwide and has devastating effects upon millions of children. In some countries, over 1/3 of girls are married before they are 18, and around one in nine will be married before they are 15. Once married these girls are often taken out of school, robbing them of their right to an education and leaving them with few career chances and little or no financial independence.

Child marriage also leaves the girls dangerously exposed to domestic violence, and, being too young to understand how to properly protect themselves, are often affected by sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDs. Furthermore, marriage at such a young age often leads to pregnancy and childbirth whilst the girls are still children themselves. This can lead to complications during childbirth and alarming rates of both maternal and infant mortality.

We must protect the current and future generations of girls and women from these human rights violations. All girls and women should have the right to a life free from violence, and deserve to have control over their own bodies, their own choices and their own futures.

I support the ‘Girl Summit’ as it sets out to tackle these issues and hope that it will be a step towards winning the freedom and dignity every women deserve.

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