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Live webchat about FGM and violence against women with Lynne Featherstone, MP, minister at the Department for International Development, Thursday 20 June, 1pm-2pm.

(110 Posts)
MylinhMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 18-Jun-13 14:46:27


We'll be welcoming Lib Dem MP and International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone this Thursday from 1pm - 2pm for a LIVE webchat.

As Minister Lynne leads on the government's Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy; the UK's international development programme in Africa; and on issues such as malaria, water and sanitation, polio and HIV. She is especially interested in your questions around the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision. Lynne spearheaded a government announcement earlier this year on a five-year programme to help end FGM within a generation.

FGM is illegal in the UK, but it is estimated that up to 20,000 girls in the UK are at risk of suffering genital mutilation, and that more than 60,000 women have already been cut. With UK schools' summer holidays fast-approaching, the risk to thousands of girls living in the UK is at its highest, as many girls return to visit their extended families in Africa, where over 95% of all FGM takes place.

Join us this Thursday to find out more about UK's work to end FGM in Africa and beyond, and - if interested - listen in advance to a podcast of three activists working to end FGM within Africa and the UK. You can also find out more on FGM - what it is, its risks and practices - here.

The Minister will be interested in hearing your thoughts and questions on this, and more of course. Please do join us on the day or, as ever, post your question in advance below.


StealthPolarBear Sat 22-Jun-13 20:32:53

Brilliant web chat by a minister who really seemed to know her stuff and feel passionately about the issue.
How annoying that I had to work when this was on.
I have already heard a bit about the work being done to support ending this practice but am going to find out more.
Thank you! More like this please.

YoniMatopoeia Fri 21-Jun-13 11:42:48

I WOULD like to thank Lynne for one of the best and most informative.web chats I have ever seen on here.

Well done

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 21:27:20

Jacques Yes I hope so, too.

JacqueslePeacock Thu 20-Jun-13 20:48:35

Really fascinating and important web chat. I'm sad I missed it. Let's have more like this.

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 18:53:57

The Law Pages website indicates that there has been a whole decade of not having a single prosecution.

And look at those possible maximum sentences.

Female genital mutilation Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 s.1 14 years
Assisting a girl to mutilate her own genitalia Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 s.2 14 years
Assisting a non-UK person to mutilate overseas a girl's genitalia Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 s.3 14 years

I am glad Lynne Featherstone is getting this further up the agenda, in an intelligent way.

MmeLindor Thu 20-Jun-13 18:39:22

I had a meeting, or I would have taken part.

I met a young girl last year who told me that in her community, it was seen as normal to be cut. She wasn't cut as her parents forbade it, and they had to send her away to her grandparents, to ensure that she didn't sneak out and have it done.

She is very grateful now, but at the time she was angry with her parents.

There is a great project to give girls an alternative right of passage - will look for the link (don't think it was mentioned here)

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 18:27:41

It was very good, MmeLindor, wasn't it? I was lucky to be at home today for a change ['working'], to see it live.

MmeLindor Thu 20-Jun-13 18:24:50

Very sorry I missed this webchat, as it was really very interesting. I very much hope that MNHQ will get involved in some way.

scallopsrgreat Thu 20-Jun-13 16:53:19

Thnk you very much Lynne for your time. That was excellent.

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 14:48:31

I would hope that MN might be able to persuade the Treasury (which is not within the remit of Lynne Featherstone, unfortunately) to continue to recognise this work, and fund it long-term; and/or to divert development aid from arms into the protection of girls and the care of women who face or are victims/survivors of FGM.

I was also struck by Lynne F's reference to women's groups in Africa initiating this campaign. Would someone from one of the African women's groups come on MN? That would be really helpful.

MiniTheMinx Thu 20-Jun-13 14:31:49

Thank you Lynne. Off to google how I can support the campaign to end FGM, even if it's just money I can donate.

Really interesting chat, if only more politicians would speak to the people smile I wonder how the world might change if all politicians made a habit of talking to those they represent.

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 14:24:37

Lynne Please do come back soon. You have been the best web chat host - albeit about such a grim subject - for some time.

And the best politician ever. (Although I also liked Sarah Teather very much.)

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Jun-13 14:24:30

Thanks Lynne, we will get in contact with the organisations mentioned like Daughters of Eve, FORWARD, Equality Now to see how we can help the campaign going forward. We'll also publish data on where the geographical hotspots for FGM are. It would be great if Mumsnet users in those areas could contact their schools and ask them to show the Hornsey Girls' film on FGM.
Thanks to everyone for the great questions.

BIWI Thu 20-Jun-13 14:23:10

I'm sorry I have missed most of this, but skim-reading it looks brilliant. Thank you for your time and for answering so many questions.

Back to the top to read more carefully!

LynneFeatherstone Thu 20-Jun-13 14:21:47

Thank you all so much for your questions, and for MNHQ for having me. I've been chatting to Justine about how Mumsnet can continue to be involved so watch this space!

Lynne x

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 14:20:34

Also, prosecutions - as with Saatchi mentioned above - could lead to cautions not prison.

It sends a statement.

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 14:19:32

The very quick change though in foot-binding in China - to which this campaign is being optimistically compared - was predicated on its not being allowed. In other words, sanctions would follow to the parents as well as to the practitioners.

This has been a really good and thought-provoking web chat.

LynneFeatherstone Thu 20-Jun-13 14:18:19


Hello again, do you mind if I repeat my question as I think it may have been missed. Or perhaps it wasn't very interesting blush. Anyway, it was:

How do you propose to overcome initial objections by the community to what they probably regard as outside interference from people who have no place meddling in their business?

It's about enabling people from communities to work with their communities, not an outsider wagging a finger. However it is against the laws of this country but more to the point, this is a movement started in Africa where the African Union have called for an end to FGM and 25 African countries have made this illegal. This is about supporting them in their movement but also recognising that we have a job to do with our own diaspora in term of abiding by our laws and helping to support them, but always through members of their own community who want to take this forward.

LynneFeatherstone Thu 20-Jun-13 14:15:16


I wonder if prosecuting parents is actually helpful. Some women who come here as adults having been cut themselves do not access medical care or maternity services because they already fear being asked questions and being stigmatised. It maybe that when these women have daughters they are even more loath to access medical care. If parents are prosecuted this sets up a situation where all those suffering from health conditions relating to FGM will not get the medical care they need, either for themselves or their daughters.

This is a really important issue because, having talked myself to communities, they have said that if they were asked at every gynaecological examination whether they cut their daughters or who cut them, they would avoid any medical examinations or contact. However, it is clearly equally important to have prosecutions to send out a clear message, which is why in an earlier post, I said that my priority in talking the Met lead on FGM was to find cutters or doctors practicing illegally. And in the end, the answer has to be about behaviour change and whole communities.

LynneFeatherstone Thu 20-Jun-13 14:11:33


I don't want to take this discussion off-topic but as a gov minister I'd really like to know what your thoughts are on mumsnet's bounty campaign? I've read lots this last week from journalists, mums, midwives etc. but not a peep from you, our democratic reps!

Thanks in advance

I think it's a really important campaign. There may well be a time for a new mum to find out what products or services are available to them, but ten minutes after you have a baby isn't it.

As I understand it, each hospital decides for itself who it will or will not allow on its wards, so i think it's important the campaign localised to put pressure on hospitals to think of the welfare of their new mothers as their first priority.

We don't hold any central contracts with Bounty or have any influence over the conduct of their sales reps, but as with all hospital visitors we expect them to respect the privacy of all women and their families.

MiniTheMinx Thu 20-Jun-13 14:06:48

I wonder if prosecuting parents is actually helpful. Some women who come here as adults having been cut themselves do not access medical care or maternity services because they already fear being asked questions and being stigmatised. It maybe that when these women have daughters they are even more loath to access medical care. If parents are prosecuted this sets up a situation where all those suffering from health conditions relating to FGM will not get the medical care they need, either for themselves or their daughters.

PromQueenWithin Thu 20-Jun-13 14:06:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LynneFeatherstone Thu 20-Jun-13 14:04:29


Given the whole Charles Saatchi/Nigella Lawson debacle, what is your view on how we need to deal with the issue of domestic violence in general and, specifically, how we deal with it in the media?

Some of the stuff that was written trying to explain Mr Saatchi's gripping of Nigella around the throat was truly horrible. How do we deal with the culture of victim-blaming that we appear to have?

Domestic violence is unacceptable and it is against the law. As I understand it, Mr Saatchi was cautioned.

If you go to the Home Office website or google 'this is abuse', you'll see two films about young people's abuse, which demonstrates how common it is for young people to think a degree of abuse is a norm and how little young people know about consent i.e. no means no. These were two campaigns when I was at the Home Office tackling domestic violence and demonstrate very clearly that this is an epidemic problem in this country as well as across the world.

liger Thu 20-Jun-13 14:03:24

Great to hear about that film, I will check if it will be shown I my sons school.

LineRunner Thu 20-Jun-13 14:01:43

Lynne Do teachers have legal duties to do something? (Even in private schools.)

(If I am appearing pushy I would say, You have convinced me how much this matters!)

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