28 MAR 2014

SI Tenby Presents FGM Petition to Simon Hart MP

SI Tenby Presents FGM Petition to Simon Hart MP

Last Friday Wendy Bell, SI Tenby's Club Co-ordinator for the FGM Awareness Project, presented The Tenby Petition to Simon Hart MP at his monthly surgery in Augustus Place. The petition contained over 2,600 signatures protesting against the illegal practice of Female Genital Mutilation. Wendy was accompanied by President Elanor Sanderson, Programme Action Secretary Doctor Anne Kelly, and Press Officer Lindsay Oeppen.

The Tenby Petition came into being at a "Women in Wales Day Event" held at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where Wendy Bell and representatives from SI Tenby were manning the Club's FGM Information Stand in SI Wales South exhibition marquee. Through programme action, SI Tenby had been campaigning to raise awareness of this heinous practice since 2003, following nearly eighteen months of research.

One lady in particular was so horrified by the information she received that she asked if there was a petition against FGM being performed on women and girls. She found it beyond belief that it was happening in the UK and, until she visited the stand, she had had no idea at all that this practice existed. The petition started there and then and was simply headed: 'Against the Illegal Practice of Female Genital Mutilation - To Keep Silent is to Sanction'.

Each signature on the letter was obtained through personal contact, and each person was given both verbal and written details explaining exactly what is involved in Female Genital Mutilation/ Circumcision. The many SI clubs across the UK who have submitted completed forms have also dealt with it in this way, as have SI Tenby's Link clubs in Charlroi, Paris, Linz, & Valley of the Sun, USA.

These facts dispel the myth that FGM is a religious requirement; rather it is a cultural practice. T Waris Dirie, UN ambassador for FGM, who herself was circumcised, has stated that FGM has nothing to do with tradition, culture or religion. It is the most cynical form of child abuse. All countries are obliged to take serious and consequent action against those that practise this crime.

Simon Hart has already given his whole-hearted support to SI Tenby's fight against Human Trafficking and Modern-day slavery and was a headline speaker at SI Tenby's Forum on trafficking held at Ysgol Greenhill School last October. He was most impressed to learn about the Club's other ongoing programme action project concerning FGM and with the strength of support for their petition.

He also said that he had been shocked to learn about the extent of the practice of FGM through the recent massive media campaign spearheaded by the Guardian newspaper and Bristol schoolgirl Fahma Mohamed, urging Michael Gove to contact all schools in the UK and empower head teachers to take whatever action necessary to protect girls from FGM. Simon Hart readily agreed to take the petition to Westminster on behalf of SI Tenby and present it to David Cameron. SI Tenby would like to thank him for his support.

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