OUSU votes to help end genital cutting

first_imgOn Monday night OUSU Women’s Campaign hosted an event at Merton addressing the work of the Orchid Project and Daughters of Eve, two organizations dedicated to ending the practice of female genital cutting (FGC).Speaking in the main lecture hall of Merton College, the speakers threw a spotlight on what Julia Lalla-Maharajh of the Orchid Project called a “terribly under-resourced” cause — the abolition of FGC.FGC is the practice of cutting any portion of a girl’s clitoris. The custom is a social norm in many communities across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as the diaspora of such communities in Europe and the United States.Human rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights groups unanimously condemn the practice.Lalla-Maharajh decided to establish the Orchid Project after spending time in Ethiopia, where she came into close contact with communities that experienced widespread practice of FGC. She explained, “From then on I wanted to truly understand this problem and find a way to solve it. It has devastating impacts on a girl’s health, on a girl’s development. In some cases, it results in death from bleeding.”Given that FGC affects at least three million girls in Africa, according to UN estimates, Nimco Ali of Daughters of Eve sought to explain from personal experiences why the custom is so prevalent. “Back in Africa marriage is a commodity. Girls have no independence, and if they do not submit to this practice then they are socially stranded.”As to why diaspora continue the practice in Europe or North America, Ali said, “a feeling of distance and unfamiliarity often drives diaspora communities to adhere to customs even more rigorously than the place they’re coming from.”Speaking to Cherwell, Julia Lalla-Maharajh said that she recognises the persistent taboo that accompanies the subject of FGC, which makes her cause more difficult to promote and fund.However, she added, “By 2013 an entire ethnic group in West Africa will have abandoned the practice, and it may see total eradication in Senegal by 2015. Tania Beard, an OUSU women’s representative, who organised the talk, presented a motion at the end of the talk which was passed unanimously. It stated, “WomCam resolves to ask Common Room Women’s Officers and Women’s Campaign members to submit charity motions to their Common Rooms, asking for donations to the Orchid Project, at OrchidProject.org.”last_img

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