Imkaan’s Response to the Home Office’s Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls
Imkaan warmly welcomes the government’s Action Plan to End Violence against Women and Girls. Violence against women and girls is a global issue and it is imperative to continue the work to tackle gender-based violence in all its forms, across the UK. We welcome a commitment to address specific forms of violence including forced marriage and female genital mutilation, however it is crucial that our attitudes and responses to such forms of violence do not alienate the women and girls we are working with and the communities we say we are trying to support. It is vital that we continue to work in solidarity with existing communities of resistance in the UK and around the world to end violence against women and girls.
Marai Larasi, Imkaan’s Executive Director, comments briefly on ‘the barbie’
Marai Larasi in response to a recent article on ’the barbie’, published 28 January 2013.
The way that female genital mutilation is often framed is within the idea of the ‘cultures’ of the ‘primitive other’ - this fixes whole groups of people in our consciousness and doesn’t allow an interrogation of how patriarchy operates in different situations (i.e. often on girls’ and women’s bodies). We reference ‘other’ peoples and places as ‘more patriarchal’ - we talk about what they do to ‘their girls’ and ‘their women’. This is a real issue in our activism - it continues to lead to fragmentation. We have to get better at making the links.
Yes there are real child protection concerns when we speak of female genital mutilation - but we must tackle the very heart of this. Girls and women are being mutilated in order to fulfill very specific ideas of beauty and ideal womanhood and this mutilation (whether in Harley St, New York or Kololi) has economic implications i.e. people make money out of this industry of cutting / stitching / reshaping / tightening girls and women’s vaginas, breasts, lips etc. and we end up debating the idea of ‘choice’ as if it’s that simple. What else is this, if not female genital mutilation?