By Waris Dirie
This story first ran on the Desert Flower Blog two weeks ago. The author, Waris Dirie, a survivor of FGM asked that the story be circulated.
I am furious! Together with my Desert Flower Foundation, I demanded for years that parents from countries where FGM is practiced shouldn’t be allowed to take their little daughters to their home countries.
As soon as school holidays in Europe begin, plenty of mothers and grandmothers are traveling with their young daughters on airplanes to Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Djibouti, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi. I witnessed this myself several times in airports in Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich and Rome.
You never see a little boy traveling with them. How come? Wouldn’t the families in Africa like to see their grandsons? On the plane I always try to speak to these families directly in order to discuss the problem of FGM, to explain to them that FGM is prohibited and to make it clear that they are not allowed to hurt their daughters in this way. Usually, they don’t want to speak about it or they respond that FGM is their right and tradition.
Last Friday, for the first time, the British police seized passports of two girls who were believed to be taken overseas for FGM. The same day, Liberal Democrat at peer Baroness Tonge witnessed more than 50 little Somali girls who flew “on holiday” with their mothers or grandmothers on the plane from London to Addis Ababa. Baroness Tonge contacted immediately the Metropolitan Police. What is arguably the reason for this trip? The police at the British airports, who should control families traveling with her daughters to these countries, didn’t notice this group. Now, the families will be checked on their return to England according to the passenger lists.
Today, the US organization Equality Now has published a study saying that 507,000 girls are affected by FGM in the US. The British authorities believe alone in the UK 20,000-30,000 girls are threatened by FGM during summer holidays.
FGM isn’t still taken seriously enough. People practicing FGM are aware of that fact and will never stop performing this brutal crime without serious controls and bringing them to court!