FGM summit: British PM calls for end ‘in this generation’

_76432219_female_mutilation_20142207_464As you may know, here at the Terrace we are keen to highlight the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and campaign for the banning of the practice, to save so many girls and young women from lifelong pain and enduring health issues.

So we were pleased to hear that Prime Minister David Cameron, talking at a global summit hosted by the UK and by UNICEF, called for FGM (and childhood marriage) to be ended within a generation. Now we need to see real action.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, said:

“The fact that 30 million girls are at risk of being cut in the coming years clearly means that we have a big challenge on our hands….’ and  Priscilla Karim, who was forced to undergo FGM in Sierra Leone at the age of just 9, told the BBC of her ordeal:

“I felt the worst pain of my life and a heavy object sitting on my chest and I just passed out…..It’s like a taboo, they don’t tell you about it. You cannot tell anybody.”

The BBC News website reporting on the summit offers some vital facts and highlights the many issues facing young women at risk in the coming years if FGM continues. This is despite growing global calls for the eradication of the procedure and the news that, in Britain at least,  failure to report FGM (FGM  has been illegal here for a number of years) will in itself become a criminal offence. Do take a look and join us in calling for this child abuse (for that is what it is) to stop.

 

 

Holidays are for relaxation, aren’t they? Some tips for really leaving stress behind…

holsOn our Facebook page over the past week we have been thinking about how we can make the forthcoming school holidays a time when the whole family can relax and enjoy really nourishing time together. How often have we looked forward to a one or two-week break for the first six months of the year, only to feel like we need a month off on our return?

There are many reasons why holidays don’t live up to expectations, but failures in the accommodation or travel plans aside, there are things we can do that make it more likely that everyone can come back refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the year.

Firstly, make sure you have all your travel plans to hand well in advance.  Many arguments start in the car before the holiday destination is even reached but can be avoided by making sure paperwork is to hand, routes planned and money for tolls in the glove compartment. Don’t travel when you are tired, but if you can start early to avoid the jams, it can make the trip so much less stressful.

Secondly, if you can take a day off work to pack it can reduce the last-minute panic that can cause arguments. If you can’t do that, start packing the week before and get the whole family involved, ensuring they choose what needs to be clean in time to get it washed and dry.

Thirdly, leave work behind. If you have to take work with you, limit the amount of time you are on your laptop; agree to have the phone on only during agreed times of day. You cannot expect your holiday companions to feel relaxed with you there on your Blackberry half the time.

beachFourthly, relaxing immediately will be difficult, especially if you have children with you, so wind down gently in the first couple of days with some energy-filled activities to avoid the mood swings associated with a drop in adrenaline.

Lastly, if you are travelling with children remember it is your time they will value, not the cultural trips you organise. If you are a couple travelling without kids for a break, don’t feel guilty and make the most of your time alone together; it will make your family unit all the stronger.

So relax and enjoy. If plans go awry , go with the changes and remember to be mindful every day. It will make the time go more slowly as you savour every moment….

 

The language of life: how simple words can change relationships…

SingThey-3As we read press reports of conflict across the world, or of disputes on home soil about who is responsible for the current state of the country’s finances, or apparent breakdown of society; it is easy to get caught up in that language of blame. This week on our Facebook page we have posted a few short status updates about how certain words, apparently simple and used all the time in general conversation, can have the power to change our perception of the world around us. We are also preparing to talk a little more about anger, and how we manage it, and the words we choose to use in our relationships with others can have a significant impact on the level of frustration we feel when we just can’t seem to get our point across.

Think about these simple words:

I

You

They

It

But

Yes

No

Always

Never

Should

We use these all the time, but they can be the cause of regular misunderstandings.  If we think about it – how often do we use ‘they say’. Who is your ‘they’? World renowned therapist Virginia Satir says:

The use of they is often an indirect way of talking about ‘you’……..How many times do we hear ‘They won’t let me’. ‘They will be upset’. ‘They don’t like what I am doing’. ‘They say’. ….

As she says, ‘they’ are nebulous and can seem threatening. Newspapers talk of a ‘they’ who come here and take ‘our’ jobs or a ‘they’ who will use technology to hack into our computers. And if we are honest, we also use this undefined ‘they’ as an excuse – ‘I am sorry I couldn’t make it for that drink after work, they wouldn’t let me leave before 6pm’.

On the world stage these ‘others,’ the ‘they’ of major conflicts, offer governments the opportunity to scapegoat whole communities. The language of blame and the refusal to take responsibility for our own part in any decision is essentially dishonest and can lead to unwanted repercussions as inaccurate information is passed on.

So identify your ‘they’ next time you are tempted to use the word in conversation. It can be difficult, but honesty is valued, and leads to greater security in all our relationships.

 

 

Female Genital Mutilation – a cross party report states it remains an ‘ongoing national scandal’

female-genital-mutilation-1A report on female genital mutilation has been published by MPs today (3rd July), and it makes uncomfortable reading for those of us committed to the campaign to end the practice.

We have written on FGM twice before on this blog here and here and are saddened to hear that the report of the cross-party Commons home affairs committee states clearly that it continues to be an ‘ongoing national scandal’.

The committee heard from victims, health and social workers, police and lawyers. Whilst not going so far as to endorse mandatory gynaecological checks it did say that a case could be made for the adoption of the French model – regular checks for at-risk young women and children.

It is shocking that around 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation in the UK. Every one of them is let down by our society if we fail to deal with this matter properly.
Keith Vaz, the Labour MP chairing the committee said:

“Successive governments, politicians, the police, health, education and social care sectors should all share responsibility for the failure in recent years to respond adequately to the growing prevalence of FGM in the UK.”

The BBC, reporting on the issue on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, spoke to Dr Comfort Momoh, a public health specialist at St Thomas’s Hospital, in London, who said there was a “lack of training” and a “lack of awareness” around the issue among health professionals.

She said: “If our so-called professionals don’t have the knowledge, if our so-called professionals don’t know how to identify groups who might be at risk, how do we expect the community to report cases to us?”
Although the Department for Education has taken steps to draw this matter to the attention of all schools, the committee feels they can still do more and there must surely be a case for training for teachers over and above standard safeguarding procedures.

The Guardian newspaper reports today that campaigners, whilst welcoming the report, are frustrated that it has not gone further, making a failure to report FGM a crime to ensure any professionals, currently reluctant to become involved in cases of FGM, take steps to protect any girl they feel may be vulnerable. The report only recommends the criminalisation of a failure to report ‘if reporting of the practice does not increase in the next 12 months’. They have also called for more detailed guidelines for professionals and funding for grass roots action.

Clearly there is a lot of support for action, but there should surely be no further delay in implementing these changes?