Sunday, 2 August 2009

Coming at it from a different angle...

You'll know that I've been struggling with the "direct intervention" ideas behind eradicating FGM. If it were that easy, it would have ended years ago. Various people have talked to me about systemic change and not looking at the problem head-on.
Two recent news stories made me ponder.

The first, in The Huffington Post, by H'Rina DeTroy outlines a new practice in the Sudan (80% prevalence) where women are communicating through henna designs on their hands that they do not want their daughters to undergo FGM:

Called the henna technique, a special design dyed temporarily on the skin can indicate to a midwife that a mother wants to avoid genital mutilation on her daughter. The tattoos serve as a bridge to discuss what is traditionally taboo. In turn, a midwife can stage a fake circumcision."

NGOs are apparently teaching midwives how to fake FGM and henna artist is the go-between that allows the mother to safely communicate what she wants to happen to her daughter. What is wonderful about this "intervention" is that it purely picks up on the mother's wishes and communicates it in a way that is kept within the women's "code" of communication. I wonder how the midwife "fakes" it? Just a small nick to the clitoris perhaps?

Here's the full link to the story:

The second story was equally compelling. A report for Women's Hour on another NGO in India, that is teaching girls to play netball. This freedom of expression through sport has led to a strong sense of freedom of expression overall. Of course, the girls are also taught other skills and are offered training courses in wider issues, such as HIV/AIDs and Sexual Reproductive Health but the netball has seemed to have had the most positive impact.

The report states that child marriage (14/15 years) is still very prevalent in the area of India that they are working in and a girl's voice is unlikely to be heard. Through this empowerment, this physical allowance of getting girls to express themselves through sport, they are literally more free to express themselves in the home. Link to the BBC website below.

It's, once again, far far too late to be posting. But I feel slightly invigorated by this - and by, finally a long talk with my best friend and my god-daughters, oh so far away.

Sleep well, all.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Julia,

    I've been reading and following you since I saw you on the plinth and your story and your work are hugely inspirational to me. The work you do is fantastic.

    I actually have a request; do you or any of the charities you work with have reading materials like hand-outs? Someone I know who works for a primary school is concerned about some of her pupils and would like to have some materials for both herself but also to give to mum's to help them.

    This may be an odd comment to receive on your blog but I couldn't find another way of contacting you - sorry! If you could point me in me in any direction that would be hugely helpful. Thanks.