PM hosts UK’s first Girl Summit to end FGM and forced marriage
Prime minister David Cameron is holding Britain’s first Girl Summit to address the issues of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages.
The Girl Summit is co-hosted by UNICEF and the UK government and will feature contributions by various heads of state, victims of FGM, charities and campaigners including the Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.
FGM and child marriage are “at the top of Britain’s Aid agenda” and Mr. Cameron has previously promised and aims to end both practices “within a generation”.
Today’s summit aims to secure “commitments from the private sector, faith leaders, civil society organisations and governments”.
As a part of the summit, the government is asking people to pledge their support through social media and has already received 5,566 pledges from supporters including Mia Farrow, Jon Snow and Desmond Tutu.
FGM has been illegal in Britain for almost thirty years, but it was not until this year that there were any prosecutions – all of which are currently still ongoing.
Under the proposed new measures, parents will face prosecution should they allow FGM to be carried out on their daughters. The government also plans to provide teachers, social workers and doctors extra training to identify girls who may be at risk, as well as offer “lifelong anonymity” to protect those who have already been a victim to the practice.
Speaking ahead of the summit the PM said: “All girls have the right to live free from violence and coercion, without being forced into marriage or the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation. Abhorrent practices like these, no matter how deeply rooted in societies, violate the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK.”
It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM each year in the UK and over 66,000 women living in Britain have undergone the practice.
UN figures suggest that over the next decade more than 30 million women and girls worldwide will be at risk of FGM.
UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake warned: “These numbers tell us we must accelerate our efforts. And let’s not forget that these numbers represent real lives. We can’t let the staggering numbers numb us – they must compel us to act.”
Photo: Courtesy of the UK Department for International Development (DFID)