Da debatten om kjønnslemlestelse raste i 2005 grunnet HRS sin rapport den gang, Norskfødte jenter kjønnslemlestes, sa en mannlig venn av oss, født i Gambia, og godt voksen: sjekk alle aktuelle jenter på Gardermoen, både ved utreise og hjemreise.
Vi lo høyt. Lo, fordi vi visste at et slikt tiltak aldri ville bli tatt i av det politiske lederskapet. Stigmatisering. Overgrep. Krenkende. Ja, det er bare å fylle ut videre. At tiltaksforslaget kom fra ”den gambiske jungelen”, der han er født og med forferdelse opplevde at søstrene ble lemlestet, hadde nok ikke hjulpet. Politikere flest fremstår som vettskremte, og derav handlingslammede, i møtet med den verste rituelle overgrepspraksisen mot barn som verden noensinne har vitnet. Fordi jentenes foreldre kommer fra ”jungelen”.
Det famles også i andre land. Som i Storbritannia. Der heter det at problemet med kjønnslemlestelse er massivt og voksende. Massivt og voksende, altså. Mens i Norge er praksisen “lite utbredt”.
Det er vel ingen andre enn en del forskere og andre naivister som tror på den påstanden.
Som i Norge, er det informasjon som har vært hovedtiltaket. Tiltaket har feilet brutalt, heter det fra de britiske øyene, noe vår helse- barne- og justisminister burde merke seg?
EU-parlamentet mener at en halv million kvinner lever med kjønnslemlestelse i Europa. Hvert år er 180 000 jenter i risikosonen for å bli kuttet. I Storbritannia er tallene henholdsvis 66 000 og 23 000. Men disse tallene mener helsemyndigheten er for lave, noe som kom frem i et policy paper i 2011. Grunnen er de siste årenes høye innvandringen.
Britiske myndigheter og politi famler, skriver Soeren Kern. Ja, og slik kommer det til å fortsette inntil såkalte harde tiltak (eventuelt) legges på bordet.
Although FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985—anyone convicted of carrying out FGM or helping it to take place faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison—there has yet to be a successful prosecution in British courts.
Britain’s first-ever FGM-related trial was held at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 15 and a ruling is expected soon. But the case has been mired in controversy.
Public prosecutors allege that after an unidentified patient gave birth at the Whittington Hospital in London in November 2012, a 31-year-old doctor in obstetrics and gynecology named Dhanuson Dharmasena «repaired FGM that had previously been performed on the patient» years earlier, thus allegedly carrying out the same crime himself.
Dharmasena is alleged to have been encouraged to perform the FGM by a 40-year-old London man named Hasan Mohamed, believed to be a relative of the patient. If they are found guilty, both men face up to 14 years in prison.
Anti-FGM campaigners say the prosecution represents an important step forward in eliminating FGM in Britain, but doctors and other medical staff who specialize in treating women who are victims of FGM claim that Dharmasena is an innocent victim of political pressure to get a first conviction at any cost.
In any event, public prosecutors admit they have discontinued work on four other allegations of FGM after determining there is «insufficient evidence to demonstrate a realistic prospect of conviction.»
The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, told the Guardian that the Crown Prosecution Service had received only 11 referrals—involving a total of just five FGM cases, four of which have been dismissed—during the past several years.
Saunders said the lack of prosecutions is due to a lack of evidence rather than flaws in the legislation. Underage victims of FGM are, more often than not, afraid to speak out against family members. As a result, the abuse usually remains hidden until the children become adults.
The Metropolitan Police Service [Met] is now pursuing an alternative strategy by going after the cutters rather than the parents. In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said:
«This is a terrible situation for young girls. So our strategy is to target the cutters. They are hurting a lot of people and making profit from it. We realize why sometimes people don’t want to complain against parents, but I think there’s no excuse for them to fail to give information about cutters.»
Hogan-Howe failed, however, to reveal how many cutters have actually been arrested.
In early May, the Met also launched a one-week anti-FGM campaign—dubbed Operation Limelight—at London’s Heathrow Airport and six other major airports in the UK. Police focused on flights to and from countries where FGM is widespread in the hopes of intercepting families who might be taking their children abroad for the practice. But after seven days of baggage searches and other «intelligence-led» checks, police made only one arrest, after the FGM had been carried out.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has been urging teachers to be vigilant in protecting female students against possible FGM ahead of the summer holidays. On May 25 he sent out an email to all schools in England and Wales with «guidance» that tells teachers how to identify girls who are at risk or who have suffered mutilation.
Gove’s email was his second on the subject in as many months because very few head teachers in the UK even bothered to read his first email.
On May 22, the London Evening Standard published data based on a Freedom of Information request which showed that Gove’s guidance on FGM was sent to 2,922 head teachers in London. Of these, 1,534 opened the email, but only 1,198 «clicked through» to actually read it.
The revelation prompted renewed warnings from MPs and anti-FGM campaigners that schools are failing to take sufficient action to protect girls from mutilation.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into FGM, described the response of London head teachers as «dreadful» and called on Gove to ensure that the guidance was read by all staff. He said:
«I am deeply concerned by how few head teachers have even opened the email from Michael Gove. A second email must be sent which is marked urgent and shows that it includes information on possible child abuse in their schools. It is imperative that this guidance reaches the frontline.»
The founder of the anti-FGM campaign group Daughters of Eve, Nimco Ali, who is herself a victim of FGM, said the data showed that head teachers were ignoring the problem of mutilation and adding to the risks that girls faced. She said:
«These figures are disappointing and again show the reality that head teachers see the protection of girls as someone else’s issue. For protection to become a reality, head teachers need to take the issue seriously.»
Amid the apparent apathy vis-à-vis FGM, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in early June launched a nationwide poster campaign aimed at mothers and care-givers who suspect a girl is at risk of FGM.
The posters—placed in 17 London boroughs, in Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester, Bristol, Sheffield, Liverpool and Cardiff—urge women, particularly those in Somali, Kenyan and Nigerian communities which have a high prevalence of FGM, to call an NSPCC-dedicated helpline (0800 028 3550) to report suspicions anonymously, or to ask for help and advice if their own daughter is at risk.
The posters are being placed in public restrooms and also in schools, police stations and hospitals until August to reach communities during the school holidays when most girls are at risk.
For now, anti-FGM organizations say the greatest success in the fight against FGM so far has been a purported decision by the Muslim Council of Britain [MCB], the most prominent Muslim organization in Britain, to declare that female genital mutilation is contrary to Islam.
The MCB—which is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood—has promised to distribute leaflets in 500 mosques and community centers across the UK in an effort to end FGM. It said that it was «not true» that mutilation was a Muslim requirement and that instead one of the «basic principles» of Islam was that followers should not harm themselves or others.
The MCB leaflet states:
«FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur’an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet.»
According to the MCB, FGM could cause severe pain, bleeding, and problems in pregnancy and even death, as well leaving some victims with lasting psychological torment. Above all, however, the MCB says, FGM is bringing Islam «into disrepute.»
If genuine, the MCB’s about-face on FGM should be commended. Up until now, however, the group has not published any statement rejecting the practice on its website.
The intellectual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, wrote in a fatwa [Islamic legal opinion] dated February 15, 2014 that: «whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world.»