Supporting our local midwife in her quest to end Female Genital Multilation
Cath Holland is a midwife living in Grange-over-Sands and through her work in this country has observed the adverse consequences of female genital mutilation on women during childbirth. She has visited an area in north west Kenya where this practice is carried out routinely and by communicating with young girls has found that their links with the international community through educational opportunities has lead them to question their traditional beliefs and practices. FGM is associated with traditional “rites of passage” ceremonies with gifts, and to help girls resist this mutilation and alter attitudes in their communities, an “alternative rite of passage” ceremony has been devised which does not involve cutting. Instead of the traditional gifts a woven embroidered bracelet is given to each girl. Cath has been greatly involved with these ceremonies in one of these villages and to assist her in her work, and to show support and solidarity with these girls, members of SI Grange-over-Sands together with members of Morecambe and Lancaster clubs learned how to make these bracelets. Two of our members, Norma Somerville and Chris Butler held a workshop on 11 September 2012 at which 400 bracelets were made. These were presented to Cath who attended our November meeting to give us an update on her activities prior to her departure to Kenya the following month.
FGM is performed illegally in the UK and continues because no prosecutions have ever been brought. Dr Isabel Huggett, our Programme Action Officer wrote about this to our MP and received a reply from Minister of State Jeremy Browne. Jeremy Browne, Minister of State at the Home Office replied assuring us that tackling FGM forms a key commitment in the Government’s “Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls: Action Plan” published in March 2012. He added that since then the Government has been taking a joined-up approach by raising awareness of this barbaric practice in the general public, issuing guidelines to frontline professionals such as teachers GPs and nurses about recognising this abuse and taking steps to safeguard women and children, and lastly working with the police to encourage them to receive evidence and present it accurately to the Crown Prosecution Service who can then decide whether to bring a prosecution.
The club continues to support Cath’s work with Chris Butler making a further 800 bracelets!