The environments we live in are inundated with ads. On TV, in magazines, in the streets, woven in to our social media feeds... our world is saturated by them. It’s easy to tune off to a certain extent... the abundance of it all does the opposite of what advertisers want; it makes it all seem less important.
How often does an ad grasp you? I mean really make you take notice? It’s a challenge, undoubtedly, but the latest campaign from charity 28 Too Many has risen to that challenge and won. I took notice of this.
28 Too Many is a charity dedicated to putting an end to Female Genital Mutilation throughout the 28 African nations that still practise this horrific act. FGM, otherwise known as female circumcision is one of those things people don’t talk about. If it comes up, we either don’t really understand what it is, or don’t want to cross the line which takes you into the culturally insensitive territory. We need to know what it is so we can know how it wrong it is so we can pipe up when given the opportunity. Educating ourselves is one of the most significant steps to fixing this situation.
Perhaps the reason this ad got to me is because of a book I read. That book is called Desert Flower, and it is a firsthand account of Somali woman, Waris Dirie, who was subjected FGM as a child. She ran away from home as a teen and was ‘discovered’ in London where she promptly rose to supermodel fame. Since, she has been a United Nations Special Ambassador and continues to speak out against this destructive operation.
FGM is a horrible, horrible act. One of those things that those of us who are lucky enough not to be directly affected by turn away from, and honestly I understand why. Like I said, it’s hard to negotiate what’s OK when it comes to critiquing foreign cultures – something I personally struggled so much with when living in a polygamous rural community in Kenya. I don’t pretend to know where to draw the line, but I do know that FGM is something we cannot accept.
The thng is, this problem is something so much bigger than just me sitting here tapping away on my keyboard to no one in particular saying that it has to stop. It is daunting and frankly a little depressing to realise the enormity of the problem, and realise how little we can do... this is partly why we turn off to it all. But we have to change that.
Something we can do, something potentially very powerful, is acknowledge it. Speak about it. Condem it. Do like this ad and don’t shy away from the topic. No matter how extensive or niche, there will be girls living in our countries who have to endure FGM; in the U.K. in particular. By saying publicly, “let’s get this straight – this is not OK” we are letting people whose lives are directly affected by this know that there is a whole lot of people out there wanting to help. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but don’t they always say acknowledging there is a problem is the first step in rectifying it?
I am writing this post because I want you to know about FGM. I want people everywhere to know what FGM is – not something that should make you feel awkward at the thought of female "circumcision." It is not even remotely comparable to male circumcision hence re-labelling it “mutilation” in recent years as awareness has grown o a process that can be called nothing other than inhumane. I highly recommend reading Desert Flower for a powerful account of how this can affect someone’s life not only in the medical sense but also in regards to long term mental wellbeing and happiness. It makes you see how wrong it is. There is a film too for those of you that aren’t readers – I have posted the trailer below. Also check out the 28 Too Many website if you are interested in taking further action.
I know it’s a small thing, but one thing I can do right now, one thing this ad implored me to do, is to bring awareness to FGM in any way possible. My blog might not be much, but it is something, and it is more than girls undergoing this traumatic experience in so many countries can have, so I will use it to its best potential.