This morning at London’s Liverpool Street station I was mobbed by campaigners. You know the type: brightly colored blue t-shirts, shiny leaflets, buckets. Usually (and ashamedly), I would have dodged and weaved my way into Accessorize or McDonalds to wait for my train in peace. But I’d just found a pound coin on the floor and was feeling suitably elated so I decided to stop and talk to them. I could always chuck my newly acquired riches in the pot if I was feeling particularly generous.
Let’s just say I’m glad I stopped.
The campaigners were from ‘Plan’ and I’m writing this article entirely to publicize their cause, which I think is a brilliant one, particularly after reading the harrowing SheRa article on female genital mutilation (FGM) by Raoul Heinrichs. More than 65,000 girls in the UK are at risk of FGM, and millions more are at risk worldwide.
In case anyone needs reminding, FGM is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Also known as female genital cutting or female circumcision, it causes untold physical and emotional trauma while enforcing the inherent gender inequality found in cultures that practice FGM. Female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights and needs to stop. Now.
Thank goodness this issue is beginning to be given the publicity it requires and deserves, and stars like Lena Headey, Beverley Knight, and Natalie Dormer are starting to ‘face up to girls’ rights’ through the wonderful platform Plan have provided.
And what is Plan’s plan? To end FGM in a generation.
Even though the campaigners were busily taking photos and adding emails to their mailing lists, in my opinion, not enough people were stopping in Liverpool Street Station this morning. The quota of public knowledge and action will never be filled until FGM has ended for good. It is an issue which we cannot hide from or scurry past any longer, which is why it is more important than ever to join in.
You can #FaceUp by uploading your photo and joining Plan’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign at www.plan-uk/FaceUp. Don’t be shy, here is mine. (Please excuse the spot on the end of my nose.)
If you are affected by FGM, or are concerned about a child’s safety, call the NSPCC’s dedicated 24-hour helpline on +44800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.