Girls Should Have the Right to Say ‘You’re Not Cutting My Parts Up’
by Tolu Aderinto
When I first heard about female genital mutilation (FGM) I was shocked. We learnt about it at Raised Voices, an all-girl theatre group in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham. What ultimately sparked our passion was watching a documentary made by strong anti-FGM campaigner Leyla Hussein. She uncovered the secrets of FGM so people like us could understand it in detail.
Personally, I think FGM is abuse. It strips girls of their womanhood before they have even had a chance to experience it.
But what I found most surprising was that something like FGM was not known by many people.
Raised Voices is a group of 50 young girls like myself. We learn about and make short films on lots of issues that affect young people and we present our films and the topics in local schools to pupils. One of the most popular issues that we have highlighted is FGM and money raised through Red Nose Day means we are also now also educating school staff about the practice.
At first learning about FGM was shocking but we knew that it was the journey we were on. Finding out how girls are being treated worldwide was going to be hard. We had buckled up for the worst.
During our research we learnt about the four different types of FGM, the age groups of girls at risk of FGM and the countries all over the world where FGM is being practised. We even learnt about the attire that the FGM cutters wear in their communities. We focused on every single detail.
The more we knew, the stronger we got and the more powerful our voices became.
These girls should have the right and ability to make a decision, to say ‘I don’t want you to cut my parts up’.
They are being stripped of their womanhood while they are girls. It’s happening to girls the same age as us, normal human beings. We need to all stand together to end FGM. Female solidarity is the best thing we can ever do.
So many people want to do so much for the anti-FGM campaign. It really made us want to jump in with two feet and get right in there to get it publicised as much as possible to stop the practice. We’re not stopping until Raised Voices is worldwide. We want to get out there to get other people involved. We’re just a group of young secondary school girls but if we can get our group on the worldwide canvas we could do lots to help the global campaign to end FGM forever.
We are so excited to be part of the BBC Three Comic Relief documentary, Stop Cutting Our Girls: A Comic Relief Special. We have been on a journey trying to publicise FGM. To go from learning about it amongst ourselves in a little room to talking about it on national TV is really exciting and we’re all really proud of ourselves.
Tolu Aderinto, member of Raised Voices at ARC Theatre Ensemble
This was initial published on the Huffington Post on 08/03/15
Sing. Shout. Smile. Laugh. Live. #EndFGM
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