LONDON, August 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
New stats show low public awareness of devastating long-term effects of FGM
Alesha Dixon, Katherine Kelly, and Joanne Froggatt and a host of other well-known UK actors, comedians, performers and YouTube stars are backing a new digitally innovative campaign, launched by international development charity ActionAid, to raise awareness of the thousands of girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya this summer.
Coinciding with the start of Kenyan school summer holidays when the risk to girls is at an all-time high, the charity is launching an urgent appeal to provide funding for safe centres for girls most at risk.
New statistics released by ActionAid show that only a third of the UK public are aware of the long-term effects of FGM, including child marriage and higher rates of complications at birth. The YouGov poll, of 2,040 UK adults aged 18 and over, highlighted that while the UK public are better informed about the more immediate effects of FGM, such as severe bleeding, there remains large gaps in public understanding about how the procedure can continue to affect girls for the rest of their lives.
To help raise awareness, celebrities are backing the Brutal Cut campaign, and asking the UK public to get involved by disrupting a selfie on social media with powerful 10 second messages from Kenyan girls who face the threat of FGM.
Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon has interrupted her own Instagram video with a message from Kenya. She said:
"I have met many inspiring women and girls living in extreme poverty so I feel passionately about supporting ActionAid's FGM campaign. Now that I have my own daughter too I feel even more strongly that stamping out FGM in Kenya is crucial - let's give it a final push, and together, if we all take action, we can save the lives of so many girls and end FGM for good."
"FGM is ruthless. It can cause severe bleeding and lasting health problems. When you look at the faces of young innocent girls who are helpless and are afraid of undergoing the cut - you feel very sad and angered.
"In Kenya, ActionAid is working directly with local communities and through local women's rights organisation in the worst affected areas to train them in the damaging impacts of FGM. Public awareness is also a vital tool to help unpick traditional cultural reasons for subjecting women and girls to FGM.
"But we urgently need more support so that we can stamp it out for good. It is a journey we have started. We will not relent until we see the results."
ActionAid is launching an appeal to raise funds for community safe centres in Kenya where local women's groups can work to bring an end to FGM over time and girls at risk of the procedure can access urgent support.
Girish Menon, Chief Executive of the charity ActionAid said;
"FGM is one of the most serious violations of human rights and a horrific form of violence against women. In Kenya, FGM can rob girls from a lifetime of choices, they may be forced to drop out of school, marry early and face significant long-term health problems.
"Every day, women's rights groups work tirelessly to bring an end to FGM for good - through educating communities, supporting victims and bringing legal cases to court. And we all have a role to play in supporting them.
"That's why ActionAid is raising awareness of the effects of FGM and calling on the public to support our work providing safe centres for local women's rights groups and girls at risk of FGM in Kenya."
ActionAid's Brutal Cut appeal aims to alert people to the short and long term dangers of female genital mutilation and raise vital funds to provide safe centres for girls fleeing FGM in Kenya. Find out more at BrutalCut.org.
Notes to Editors
1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2040 UK adults females. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th -14th July. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. Only a third (30%) are aware that early child marriage and less than a quarter (23%) are aware that early childbirth are an indirect effect of FGM.
3. ActionAid's centres for girls are a space where girls can rebuild their lives free from fear and stay in school. They are also an essential space for local women's groups that ActionAid supports to campaign against FGM in their communities. In the centres, they train people in the dangers of FGM, particularly those living in remote areas where FGM is still widely practiced; setup and run business, so that they can fund their own campaigning work and support the girls living in the safe centres throughout the year; and report cases of FGM and work with authorities to bring perpetrators to justice.
4. FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. One in three women experience such violence in their lifetimes. Ultimately, ending all forms of violence against women and girls requires tackling its root cause: gender discrimination and inequality between women and men.
Juan Leahy | Senior Media Officer | ActionAid UK