Bisexuality and The Police

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No. I don’t mean the rock band. It’s an unexpected advert curtesy of the other police that I caught a glimpse of instead. It took me several attempts to get the shot, as the car was rocking back and forth threatening to flatten me against bemused commutes. Plus, the purple safety bar was unfortunately very much in the way, hence the angle.

I’m not sure whether you can read the small print, so to ensure you need not squint yourself into a wrinkly visage, I’ll lend a helping eye:

“At Stonewall we’ve campaigned for 25 years for equality. We’ve had major successes with legalising same sex marriage, repealing Section 28 and lifting the ban on gay people serving in the forces. But 99% of young gay people still regularly hear homophobic language at school, 100 homophobic hate crimes are reported to police every week and 2.4 million people have witnessed homophobic bullying at work in the last five years.

Lots done. Lots to do.”

Atta police. Keep up the good work. 

Whenever the law enforcement agency appears in the press of late, it is once again to emphasise its shortcomings. Either you hear more about PlebGate or a shooting gone wrong. These are important issues, and keeping them in the public eye will hopefully ensure that appropriate measures are taken so that they might not reoccur in the future. There is little media coverage of the things that the men and women entrusted with serving and protecting the public are getting right. Don’t they deserve some acknowledgement for this?

Snippets from the Underground series.

Freedom of Speech | Words do not Kill

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with CRAZYCONTRARIAN

“A recent survey suggests that 45% Americans don’t understand the First Amendment.  (…) Contrary to popular belief, the First Amendment does not allow people to say anything they want without consequence.  Speech has never been protected in all situations, and the First Amendment has never applied to private citizens and private entities that have prohibited speech in one way or the other.” FIRST AMENDMENT 101

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Freedom of speech is yet another issue that has left the realm of abstract debate.

Most people would consider freedom of speech as a prima facie right, one that cannot and should not be alienated, yet trigger-happy governments have been known to overreact to instances when this right is used by individuals with questionable personal or political agendas, by proposing bills that would curtail that freedom. I refer here to a bill proposed in the UK a few years ago that intended to outlaw speech that incites religious hatred, prompted by crazycontrarian‘s Side Note, which indicates that in the US  for example “the government can interfere and punish speech when the speech (1) incites violence; (2) constitutes “fighting words”” and so on.

Is the freedom to criticise ideas not a fundamental freedom of society? I do not condone the use of this freedom to incite religious hatred, and yet legislating against opinion and curtailing the freedom to express it seems like a step too far. There are already sufficient laws to deal with extreme situations.

Words do not kill. In a democracy at least, we should cherish the right to criticise rival ways of life and express our disagreement freely. We may disagree with those who exercise their freedom, but this freedom should be protected, or else we will come to live in a world where only those views ratified by the state would be acceptable. I lived under such a regime. It is not one I would like to ever return to.

As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 

At times it can be difficult to balance between liberal-democratic beliefs in freedom of opinion and expression and the language that multiculturalism can take against religion. Nonetheless, making legislation to prohibit criticising religious and other ways of life will neither eradicate hatred, nor stop it from being expressed through media that is more difficult to regulate. Conversely, this may increase the appeal of illicit language by giving it an aura of anti-establishment valour.

This debate opens another crucial subject: rights as ‘privileges’. The subtext of this theory is more dangerous than it appears to be.

Firstly it rejects the universality of human rights, transforming them into a good conferred to a limited number of individuals, thus it legitimises the prosecution, torture or even enslavement of the “unprivileged”.

Secondly, it implies that rights can be taken away and denotes that they are at the disposal of governments; this could justify such mayhem as the concentration camps during the Second World War – if rights are given by governments, they can just as easily be taken away.

Finally, it implies that rights should be earned or deserved, somewhat like the Honours conferred by the Crown. The above picture appears to be better suited to describe the organisation of crime rings, rather than liberal democracies.

In my opinion, human rights – freedom of speech amongst them – shouldn’t be subject to overruling and any government intending to countermand them should be required to justify their actions extensively.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Auschwitz | Remember

Auschwitz

An eerie feeling descends upon us as we step through the gates of the camp, home to the ghosts of a past that we ought never forget to remember.

Auschwitz-Birkenau. The search for perfection brought humanity to this place. It was here that human beings who were deemed imperfect turned to ash. They too had tread on these rails. For many it was to be their final walk.

1,471,595 people – men, women and children – took their last breath at the end of the line.

We tiptoe in their footsteps, humbled.

I do not want to think of perfection. Not today. We are – all of us – imperfect. Our flaws make us who we are. They do not make us undeserving of a chance at life. There were those who though differently. There are those who still do.

No. I do not want to think of perfection today.

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Daily Prompt: PERFECT

Rape | A World Pandemic

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Open up the papers on any day of the week and you are bound to find another article on rape. It is a pandemic. No corner of the world is safe from it.

I tend to get my daily news from the Guardian. The world’s attention is once again focused on rape and violence against women in India. 

Connaught-place-inner-circle-1On Tuesday, a Danish woman was gang-raped near Connaught Place, a popular shopping location in the centre of New Delhi. She was lost and asked for directions. Is this what things have come to? A 51-year-old woman getting beaten and robbed, raped for daring to ask for a helping hand. No arrests were made.

Visiting India had been long on my list of must dos, but I have to admit I will not be making my way to the subcontinent in a hurry. Until the Indian government takes the issue with the seriousness it deserves, no woman – whether local or a tourist – is safe in that place. I have no desire to become yet another number in government statistics: one of 1,330 rapes reported in Delhi and its suburbs between January and October last year.

India requires more than stringent laws and doubling prison terms for rape. It needs more than criminalising voyeurism and stalking. What ought to change in India is public attitude. When interviewed, men are still of the opinion that a woman walking unaccompanied in public is asking for it. The gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in December 2012 may have caused public fury for a time, but it does’t appear to have brought about substantial change when it comes to conservative, patriarchal attitudes towards women.

“This mindset is not changing,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of India’s Centre for Social Research, “It’s a huge challenge.”

BasketmouthIndia is not the only place where sexual violence is rife. Nigeria is another such place. It comes as no surprise then that earlier this year, Nigerian and other African commentators turned on comedian Basketmouth when he posted a joke on social media trivialising rape.

Basketmouth though it appropriate to say that while white women put out after a couple of dates, African women keep holding out, so on the ninth date a bit of rape is required. This in a country where sexual violence is an epidemic. Not funny and very irresponsible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pXIylcnIjQ

Let us not forget of the Kenyan case too, where protesters took to the streets in Nairobi, after six men gang-raped a 16-year-old girl. The girl, who was attacked after walking home from her grandfather’s funeral in June, was able to make a positive ID of her assailants. Their punishment? Cutting grass.

The US fares no better. One of six U.S. women has experienced an attempted or completed rape. Yet did you know that in most states the legal definition of rape continues to require the use of physical force?

I’ve written in the past that the majority of women are raped by men they know. In fact, nine out of ten cases of rape are not perpetrated by strangers and yet criminal law fails to acknowledge this. Most rapes by friends, family and acquaintances are never prosecuted because, unlike sexual assaults by knife-wielding sexual predators, such rape cases involve little force. So if a woman is attacked, she’s better make sure that she gets a good beating too, because being raped in itself will not secure a conviction. How can this be? 

Intercourse without consent is rape. American criminal justice ought to get in line with the times and allocate punishment accordingly.

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The A to Z of RAPE

A woman who reports rape in Afghanistan risks facing more violence by becoming the victim of honour killings perpetrated by her family as well as being further victimised by being charged with adultery, a crime punishable by death. 

In Bangladesh, women are subjected to the “two-finger test” in rape investigations, where a doctor inserts two fingers in the woman’s vagina to determine whether the woman is “habituated to sex” – a test also known to be used in India.

In Cambodia rape is estimated to be common, but only a very small minority of these assaults are ever reported. Women who report rape have to endure the social stigma attached to losing virginity before marriage, even when raped.

Denmark is one of few developed countries to maintain several marital exemptions in its legislation, making the prosecution of husbands who rape their wives an uphill struggle. Amnesty International has “repeatedly urged the government [of Denmark] to bring legislation on rape in line with international law. It is very disappointing that Denmark has rejected related recommendations made in the review, referring to an expert review that has been pending for two years.” (2011)

Similarly, marital rape is yet to be criminalised in Egypt. During the current Egyptian protests rape was carried out publicly and on the 3rd of July 2013, it was reported that between 91 and 169 women were raped and sexually abused in Tahrir Square in four days.

In Italy traditional attitudes towards rape have been slow in changing. Until relatively recently, it was considered an acceptable solution for a woman to marry the man who raped her as part of the rehabilitation process. There was too the infamous 1999 “tight jeans” case where the Italian Court of Cassation declared a man not guilty of rape because the woman was wearing tight jeans and it was impossible to forcibly remove them, apparently. It took the court nine years to overturn the ruling.

Rape is Lesotho‘s main social issue with the highest incidence of any country: of 1,049 women, 33% said they had been raped by the age of 18. 

In 2013, the violent gang-rape of six Spanish women in Acapulco made the authorities question the safety of tourists in Mexico.

Rape in Pakistan continues to be a tool for suppressing women. The case of Uzma Ayub, a 16 year old girl, who was abducted by a soldier and policeman and repeatedly raped by several men, including an army official and policemen, springs to mind. This is a country where teenage girls are burnt alive when resisting rape and yet on the 12th of July 2013, Council of Islamic Ideology of Pakistan dismissed DNA tests as evidence for rapes, and declared that without witnesses no rapes would be recognised. It beggars belief.

The rate of sexual violence in Papua New Guinea is shocking: a UN study on Men and Violence found that 62% of men from Bougainville Island had raped a woman and 7.6% had raped a man. 14% had participated in gang rape. 69.3% had raped more than once. 15.5% had four or more victims. 71% reported their motivation being sexual entitlement, 63% said they raped for entertainment, and 50% said they raped out of anger or to punish a woman.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with some 65,000 rapes and other sexual assaults reported in 2012.

A woman is raped every 90 minutes in Sri Lanka. Yet it takes six to twelve years to resolve a rape case and 96.5% of the men who rape experience no legal consequences.

Sweden has the highest incidence of reported rapes in Europe with 46 incidents of rape per 100,000 residents.

Yemen law does not recognize marital rape and does not provide a minimum age for marriage. Child marriage and child rape in the context of marriage is an appalling result of this legislative failure.

“In order to end violence against women, we have to end violence against children. If we end violence against children, we have a huge impact on violence of all kinds perpetuated across the globe,” said Rachel Jewkes, the lead technical adviser for a UN study in Asia and the Pacific where one in four men surveyed admitted raping at least one woman.

Indeed.

 

Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines

Xenophobic Tory MP Nadine Dorries blames immigrants for recent UK floods

Nadine DorriesConservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries lived up to her reputation as an entrenched xenophobe when she appeared on BBC 1’s Question Time last night.

In the context of answering a question about whether racist rhetoric will stop now that the wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants has failed to materialise, Dorries thought it appropriate to imply that immigration is responsible for British citizens being flooded out of their homes over Christmas and in recent weeks.

After raving about David Cameron’s lack of power when it comes to setting immigration targets and accusing the European Union for its open door policy: “We have no idea how many people are going to come, but we do know how many millions of people have the right to come if they want to” says Dorries, clearly a woman who lives in constant fear that her back yard will be flooded with immigrants any moment now. Perhaps that is why Dorries next swerves incomprehensibly into the issue of flooding: “Now most, a large part of Britain this week has seen – well over the last few weeks and over Christmas – has seen flooding. One of the problems with flooding is we’re building on our flood planes, and so we have less and less area of the country were water can drain,” and then uses this to appeal for people to vote Conservative in the next elections in order to pull Britain out of the EU and stop immigration.

She made me feel so proud of being British. Not.

As fellow panellist, Daily Mirror ‘Fleet Street Fox’ blogger Susie Boniface said “The question about whether the racist rhetoric will end is plainly NO.” Like Boniface, “Frankly, I find the way we have discussed the migration issue utterly appalling, completely disgusting, obnoxious, offensive and very un-British.”

From what I have seen so far on British TV – including, disappointingly, the BBC, from what I have read in the papers and online, I have come to the conclusion that instead of taking the lead on promoting British values such as fairness, tolerance and open-mindedness, the Conservative party is caught up in a race with the UKIP for “Xenophobe of the Decade Award” with the likes of Nadine Dorries MP at the forefront.

Women and Leadership | The End of Men as Leaders

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with SFoxWriting

“In summary, while I’m not saying that men are bad leader’s in fact there have been many successful and popular male leaders throughout history I believe that they lack certain skills in order to gain the upper hand in every situation. I because of this am of the opinion that women have a broader range of characteristics in order to get the best out of any situation and are the best leaders.” Women make better leaders than men

woman-leader

I object, your honour! I object.

Alright. You caught me. I’ll be playing the devil’s advocate here. Don’t take me wrong. I’m all for women taking on leadership roles. The more the better. So… Instead of arguing in favour or against our Mr Fox’s premise, I will unpick aspects of his argument that I thought might require additional consideration, such as forgetting to include Hermione Granger in his “Inspirational women” list for example. 😉

“In terms of work for example it is crucial that the Boss is a powerful figure,” says Steven. This I presume is meant to indicate that a boss is a figure of authority. Whether it is necessary for a leader to be a powerful figure I am less certain.

If we take power to denote a physical characteristic, it is sufficient to look back at the likes of Napoleon, whence we have the “short man syndrome.” Admittedly, he did lose more battles than he won, but the British had more to do with that than his height. Roosevelt got America through a war while in a wheelchair. Churchill had to fight mental illness as well as the Nazis, not to mention a serious addiction to Cubans and champagne. All in all, I’d say that neither a strong body nor a strong mind are essential for a leader to succeed. Will power, on the other hand, is crucial.

Good news for all aspiring women leaders out there I should think.

A last note on power. It is not the man or woman who occupies the metaphorical throne that needs to be powerful. The seat of power itself will endow them with all that they require in that respect. It is what they do with it that matters. Many are the bosses who have no clue what it takes to become a leader.

“It is however also important that they also have lots of other little skills which help to make the Boss be as understood and motivating as possible,” continues Steven, “one of the biggest tools women use better than men is communication.”

I have to say that I’ve never fully understood why good communication skills are considered to belong to one gender and not the other. I rather think that this is a stereotype that has little foundation in reality. There are women who are good communicators, but there are also men who are equally skilled in this respect. In my experience gender is seldom an indicator of whether the person before you will possess this particular gift or not.

The same goes for being good listeners. I’ve come across many a woman who is devoid of this ability and many a man similarly afflicted.

Steven made an interesting point in this respect: “if something needs to be done but it isn’t urgent and some thought needs to be taken beforehand the women will sit down with all parties involved and genuinely listen to everyone’s points before making up plans to deal with the subject at hand. However the man will jump into the problem and try and fix it sometimes with no exterior input.”

I beg to differ. First of all the example is too vague: “something needs to be done.” By the end of the paragraph we discover that it is not just something that needs to be done, but that something is a problem to be resolved rather than a task to be performed.

If a problem requires collaborative decision-making then a good leader, whether man or woman, will take appropriate measures to ensure that all parties have been given the chance to contribute to the process. Leaders seldom “jump into the problem and try and fix it”, whether men or women. Instead they delegate. Leaders are the ones with the vision. The minutia of problem solving usually falls to middle management and in the case of smaller issues to the workforce at large.

Nor do I think that men jump in to fix problems “due to men wanting more power and having the mentality to try and fix things.” While men may have been socially conditioned to get on with “fixing things”, I doubt that this is in any way related to wanting more power. Those who have power get others to fix things for them, surely. I don’t like the expression “why have a dog and bark yourself”, but I suspect it is the case here.

Next Steven claims that “women are discussion orientated and men are action orientated.” I’d say that this particular stereotype does a disservice to men and women in equal measure. It gives the false impression that women stand around chatting all day, while men jump left right and centre fixing things. Is that really the case?

Leaders thrive on communication. They have to communicate in order to delegate and getting their subalterns to put their ideas into practice is what leaders do. Communication is a form of action when it comes to jobs at the top, as is decision-making. If there are other types of “action” that ought to be included in this context, I have to admit, I’m unaware of them.

When it comes to “employees want their employer to listen to them and even take their ideas on board” and “customers want themselves to be heard”, I get the distinct impression that Steven and I were thinking of different types of leadership styles as well as different sizes of business. In the context of a small business, a leader or boss, to use Steven’s language of choice, may indeed be required to take on the mantle of HR and PR. Medium, large business and multinationals have entire teams dedicated to these tasks. The man or woman at the top has bigger fish to fry. Listening to their advisors, boards of directors, shareholders and those reporting directly to them is a must. Listening to every employee and n-number of customers, on the other hand, would be untenable, even if it may ultimately result in loyalty.

I also doubt that women are alone in trying to “build relationships in and out of work.” Similarly, I am certain that a woman leader would be just as quick in distinguishing between potential partners and rivals when it comes to “collaborations with say other companies”. They would assess the pitfalls and benefits of such collaboration and would take into account “if they are competitors or not.”

Nor do I agree that “This will in the long run most likely make only a small difference to the way the company is run or the success it has”. Why only a small difference? Having successful relationships with partners is invaluable. It’s the difference between making the number or going under. Such collaborative efforts, when part of the company’s overall strategy, are about growth and profit. Otherwise, why bother? No self-respecting leader would put in all that effort on the off-chance that they’ll need allies when “everything goes wrong.” Leaders work towards success. They are not in the habit of planning for the eventuality of failure.

“While men view competition as exactly that “someone else to take part of my pie” and this just leads to conflict, while the women invite each other round to share equal amounts of pie and get better ties with other businesses because of it.” Well I never. Women invite each other round to share equal amounts of pie? Not if they are business women they don’t, and certainly not if the pie is an euphemism for their share of power.

Sorry, but this pie simile ought to have stayed in the bakery. Women view competition exactly as men do. They are usually berated for it, but make no mistake about it: women are just as competitive as men are. They won’t go sharing any pie.

I’m also uncertain about where the point ‘the amount of time it takes a woman to get ready’ fits into a discussion about leadership. It can take a woman five minutes to get ready if she has a deadline. If not, she may indulge. Still. This has no relevance when it comes to her business acumen or her ability to lead. Feel free to extrapolate.

“Women also prefer leading from the middle of the pack rather than the top like men,” says Steven.

Not so. For a very long time, due to socio-political and economic reasons into which I will not go here, women have been confined to the middle of the pack. It wasn’t a choice. It was the state of affairs.

Similarly, successful men and women are all aware that “in order to achieve greatness everyone must chip in rather than just barking out orders”. Those who’ve missed that particular memo, don’t make it to the top.

That’s that. I’ve done my best to do my worst. The devil is done. Medium-rare I should think. Despite the combative tone of the above, I assure you that Steven and I are in agreement on many a point, but I enjoy a good parry and, since he agreed to be a good sport about it, I wanted to measure up to the challenge.

I admire the tenacity with which Steven approached Don Charisma’s challenge on this subject. Kudos to a writer who delved fearlessly into new territory. To find out who made it to his list of inspirational women as well as for additional points on why women make better leaders than men, please read Women make better leaders than men.

My last thoughts for you come courtesy of Joan Kofodimos’s review of Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men.

The End of Men… as Leaders? is nigh it would appear, since men’s old ways no longer fit into a fast-changing world where adapting to new circumstances holds the key to success. I rather think that Steven attempted to make many of these points in his article, albeit in a different format.

Here is a breakdown of the men’s Old Way versus women’s New Way argument:

The Old Way

  • accepting the legitimacy of external authority
  • deferring to others with authority over you
  • using your authority to get compliance from those below you
  • wanting to please others that you view as powerful – being “respectful”
  • avoiding conflict and communicating indirectly or “off-line” about difficult issues
  • not upsetting the apple cart because of the fear of damaging relationships
  • creating a rational “persona,” not voicing your personal viewpoint for fear of being seen as selfish

The New Way

  • recognizing that the most important influence is lateral
  • seeking commitment rather than compliance – even when you have authority
  • treating everybody the same – “respect” does not vary with position
  • surfacing conflict openly with all relevant stakeholders
  • being able to challenge in a way that deepens, not threatens, the relationship
  • building win-win solutions that address the interests of all stakeholders

So… Are you persuaded? Do women make better leaders than men?

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Put a stop to female genital mutilation. Full stop.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Project O

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

“Female genital mutilation: for the love of all humanity, how on earth is it possible for this to be happening in 2013? in the name of religion, apparently. Whichever god it is you follow, even if it is science, females have been created in that way for a reason. Who should have the right to change it? FGM in the USIn December 2012 the UN passed a resolution opposing the practice, and whilst the main practice occurs in Africa, a recent report gave official figures of 2000 girls seeking medical help in London in the past 3 years following the procedure. The appalling treatment of young girls in this way is beyond reprehension and demonstrates not a single ounce of respect for them as a human being. If would seem however that there is no recourse for these cases. Is it a too difficult subject to deal with because people are scared of offending someone because of ‘religion’? If it was down to me, whoever does this, including the mother and the father who sanction it, they should be tried for actual bodily harm, or in some horrific cases, manslaughter or murder.” Julie

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When it comes to difficult topics, female genital mutilation (FGM) comes very near the top. I did not know where to begin. I wavered. What could I possibly say when faced with such cruelty inflicted, perpetuated in part at least, by those who have been themselves submitted to the same.

This cycle of violence – seemingly endless — saddens me to the core.

For those who do not know what female genital mutilation entails:

  • the removal of all or part of the clitoris,
  • the cutting out of the surrounding labia (the outer part of the vagina)
  • the sewing up of the vagina (with a small opening left for bodily functions)

One of the key reasons for FGM being carried out is the belief that it will reduce a woman’s libido, therefore discouraging sexual activity before marriage.

Culture, religion and social norms collude in its perpetuation in some Muslim countries where the practice is prevalent. In part this is due to the high value placed on a woman’s chastity and modesty in those countries.

It beggars belief. I simply do not understand why it is necessary to mutilate a girl for her to be considered chaste and modest?

I am appalled every time another story appears in media about yet another British girl taken back to her parents’ home country to be physically and psychologically abused in this way. It has been estimated that more than 20,000 girls under 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and than 66,000 women in the UK have been submitted to the procedure.

While I do not know how this practice can be curtailed in countries where it is inscribed in culture and faith, I cannot understand how it is possible for Western governments to fail in protecting their citizens to such a degree. In the UK, the practice was outlawed in 1985, and yet there have been no prosecutions to date.

In the economic context in which we now live, with the recession seemingly endless, such issues are side-lined. This is a crime and those we put into a seat of power and give free reign to govern the minutia of our lives ought to be more proactive on this issue.

The first major inquiry into female genital mutilation was launched last month. The inquiry aims to ‘get to the truth’ about the lack of convictions three decades after FGM was made illegal in the UK. The Home Affairs Select Committee will challenge ministers and the police over inaction when it comes to charging ‘cutters’ or families who arrange the surgery. Some responsibility is being laid at the door of NHS staff, teachers and social workers for failing to do enough to curb the practice.

At an international level, the 2012 UN resolution is a step forward. However, it will only make a difference if implemented effectively in all countries, particularly those where the it is a common occurrence. So once again it comes down to a country by country approach, and lobbying for local governmental support in stopping the mutilation of girls and women.

The “cultural” argument does not stand up. Not to me. Not in this context. Not when human beings are being hurt unnecessarily. Some traditions are best left behind.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.