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Three girls born in Australia every day will become victims of Female Genital Mutilation.

There is a staggering 125 million females alive today who have undergone some degree of FGM reports The Australian Women’s Weekly. The cultural practise more commonly known as type 1 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in which the tip of her clitoris was cut off with a razor blade.

In its most extreme form, girls are subjected to the removal of the clitoris and labia, and the sewing up of their vagina, leaving only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood.

Aside from obvious trauma, there are several long term effects of FGM; pain, difficulty passing urine, recurrent infections, painful intercourse, inability to have intercourse, difficulty during childbirth, urinary fistula and others.

While FGM has never been a traditional practice in Australia, an increase in migration from FGM affected countries means that it is happening in our region.

In fact, campaigners at No FGM Australia estimate that with up to 1100 babies per year being born to women who are likely to have undergone FGM in their native countries, as many as three girls a day born in Australia could be at risk of FGM.

FGM has been illegal in Australia since the 1990s but because of the clandestine nature of the practice very few prosecutions have been made until very recently.

In November 2015 a landmark trial in Australia saw three people convicted for FGM. The outcome of the case has been a huge victory for anti FGM campaigners, but with overwhelming evidence that the practice is still rife and that many girls are being taken overseas for the procedure there is still a long way to go.

Paula Ferrari, co-founder of No FGM Australia says that we should think of FGM as a collective problem and that everyone in our society should know about it.

“The little girls do not have a voice, so we need to be their voices. If their parents are not protecting them then this becomes the responsibility of the state. As such we must have stronger and more systematic measures in place,” she says.

Ferrari thinks that one way to raise awareness would be to add FGM to the national curriculum and make it a mandatory part of all teacher-training. “All teachers should know about FGM, from pre-service training through to experienced teachers,” she says.

One of the big challenges in the fight to end FGM is the cultural sensitivity around the practice. Ferrari notes that professionals such as doctors and teachers may avoid reporting FGM cases because of the stigma of speaking out against a cultural practice.

In addition to this she believes that as a society we are too prudish to talk openly about private body parts.

“We need to end this silence, end the stigma and stop treating girls and women’s clitorises and vaginas as too shameful to talk about.

“If we saw a child come back from a holiday with their eye poked out for “cultural” reasons, would we let it continue? No, as soon as we saw this practice, as a country we would act quickly to inform the parents it is unacceptable in Australia, we would pass a law banning the poking out of eyes and then we would police it until it was eradicated,” she says.

Dr Sally Henderson is the senior program coordinator at ActionAid and has done extensive work with women in Kapchorwa, eastern Uganda. She says that despite many campaigns to end it, FGM is still seen as a necessary step in securing the reputation of young women and preparing them for marriage.

“The men maintain that it is only by using FGM that they can ensure their wives will not stray and that their daughters will be perceived as being honourable members of the community,” Dr Henderson explains.

The UN estimates that if current rates of FGM continue a colossal 86 million women and girls will experience the practice by the year 2030. If the fight to end FGM is to be successful, then a lot more work needs to be done.

Share your comments below.

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  • This is a barbaric custom with no basis for it being. This needs to be stopped all women & men of principal & moral concern should speak out worldwide to stop this issue .

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  • This needs to stop its no different to circumcision no benefit whatsoever and traumatizes the poor kids

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  • yeah i also had no idea that this was happening here in oz. that is very shocking.

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  • I\’d heard about this practice in countries like Africa, but I had no idea that it was so common here in Australia. The sad thing is there is no medical reason for it, only a cultural belief that causes much pain and disfigurement for the girls. It is a positive sign to hear of a successful prosecution in November 2015.

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  • there is a book which is now a film about this called Desert Flower which is a true story and you only think this kind of barbaric behaviour happens in Africa not here in Australia.

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  • WHAT?!!! WHAT WHAT WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!! Absolutely barbaric and utterly disgusting! What sort of culture is that!!

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  • Horrible! Those poor girls. How can anyone justify doing this to someone

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  • That is disgusting that this happens in Australia. Or anywhere. It needs to stop

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  • This used to be common practise in our Indigenous Tribal Settlements in country/outback areas. They would leave the girls away from the camps but take them food and water until the bleeding stopped. Many suffered heaving bleeding, infection or both and after much suffering passed away.

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  • This is shocking, I can’t believe the statistics. There needs to be worldwide intervention to stop this cruelty.

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  • I also think that something has to be done by the society to stop this violence against girls!!

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  • These cultural practices are wrong. When a child is born, they should have the same rights as an adult when it comes to protection from physical and mental abuses.

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  • Lke gt

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  • So typical – men defending a practice that harms women. Lets work together to stop this cruel and unnecessary practice.

    Reply

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