#end FGM

Who we are

Fahma Mohamed, Integrate Bristol with the backing of UK newspaper The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

What we did

17-year old Fahma Mohammad from Bristol, one of nine daughters in a Muslim Somali family who came to Britain when she was seven, had been working with a local organisation, Integrate Bristol, on the issue female genital mutilation (FGM), which some of her classmates had endured.

One estimate is that around 65,000 women in Britain have undergone some form of FGM, the highest number in Europe. Fahma felt strongly that teachers weren’t talking about it enough in schools, so started a petition calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to write to all schools urging teachers to talk to students about it before the next summer holidays in a bid to protect girls from being mutilated during the “cutting season”.

How we did it

Within 20 days of calling on the government on change.org petition to put education at the heart of tackling FGM the petition had attracted nearly 250,000 petition signatures as part of a wider campaign involving The Guardian newspaper. No-one thought that Michael Gove would agree – but he did ask her and her friends into a meeting at the department for education.

Were we successful?

An hour after Fahma walked into a meeting with her five friends, the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s agreed to write to all headteachers in the UK within two months and include guidance relating to keeping children safe, specifically including material that will enable everyone working with young people to tackle female genital mutilation.

Fahma’s example has inspired anti-FGM campaigners around the world, including US-based FGM survivor Jaha Dukureh to lead a change.org petition in 2014 to improve data collection on women and girls in the US impacted by FGM and at risk of mutilation against a ‘a culture of silence about FGM in America’, garnering over 200,000 signatures. Jaha later became the leading campaigner against FGM in the Gambia, where FGM was banned in 2015.

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