To protect young girls against FGM we need to understand how the law works in their favour

A campaign to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and educate communities on how the law can be used for protection has been launched by a group of graduates and a student from Nottingham Law School.

Sanjit Nagi, Kathryn Moran, Ashleigh Glenn and Ben Chapman, graduates of the Law School’s Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), and final year LLB Law with Psychology student, Georgina Foreman, set up the extra-curricular inFrinGeMent project with support from the Legal Advice Centre at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University.

Funded by the Centre, the group undertook training by Forward UK, a charity focusing on gender equality and safeguarding the rights of African girls and women, where they discussed what FGM is, the national and global prevalence of FGM and the law, as well as examining case studies.

They have now linked up with Nottingham organisation, Mojatu Foundation, which works mainly with African and Caribbean communities on media, health and education-related initiatives. It is also the leading local organisation involved in tackling FGM through community mobilisation and engagement, support for FGM survivors, training and raising awareness, and works closely with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and other organisations tackling FGM.

Through the use of case studies and talks and seminars at schools and community centres, inFrinGeMent aims to make people aware of law surrounding FGM, its role as a deterrent, and the legal obligations of public bodies. The group will also be targeting professionals such as teachers, medical staff and social workers.

The team has also been invited to join Mojatu’s Community Champions Team which supports its FGM campaign through the collection of stories and sharing information in the Mojatu Magazine, presenting at and supporting FGM events, and representing Mojatu at events among other awareness-raising activities.

Director of Mojatu Foundation and FGM campaigner, Valentine Nkoyo, said: ‘It is fantastic to see young people getting involved in such a campaign and giving their time and expertise to support an organisation like ours. As a survivor myself, I understand the huge impact FGM has on girls and women physically, emotionally and psychologically and it’s therefore vital to do what we can to stop it.

‘Young people play a very vital role in the eradication of the practice irrespective of if they come from practising communities or not. With FGM being a practice deeply rooted in culture and that needs to be addressed with a level of sensitivity within the community, we look forward to working with and support the group where necessary to ensure that we get the right messages across that helps survivors and affected communities become more receptive and engaging’.

Kathryn Moran, a member of inFrinGeMent and an aspiring human rights and criminal justice barrister, is currently working with fellow member, Ashleigh, as a prison law advocate in Nottingham. She said: ‘The idea for the project came after a conversation with a judge about how little is known about this area of law. We all have an interest in this topic, and with Georgina providing an input on the psychological impact on survivors of FGM, we felt we could really make a difference.

‘I am very keen on volunteer work, I think it is very important in the areas of human rights and criminal justice – doing more and giving back is essential. I hope this project will gain recognition and be something that I can continue to help with even as I move into my career as a barrister’.

Sanjit Nagi, who hopes to become a family law barrister, added: ‘FGM is certainly making its way into family law cases, especially within care proceedings – thus making it an area which may be relevant to my future practice. However, the main thrust for me was to educate communities and professionals in the legality of FGM, as it is an area of the law with many shades of grey. inFrinGeMent is certainly a project I will be involved in throughout the rest of my career’.

Ashleigh, Ben and Georgina also have plans to practice human rights or criminal law and intend to continue with the project throughout their career paths.

Faye Deverell, senior supervising solicitor at the Legal Advice Centre, said: ‘When the group came to us with their idea we were very keen to support them however we could. This project uses the skills they have learned throughout their degrees and the BPTC course to raise awareness of a very important community issue. We encourage all students at Nottingham Law School to carry out pro bono work, both as part of their course and extra-curricular, to enhance their studies and to give back to the local community’.

The inFrinGeMent team will be taking part in the Hyson Green Cultural Festival to be held on the 8th of August at the Forest Ground, where the theme will be FGM and empowerment of girls and women. They will also be presenting at the international conference, End FGM Together, organised by Mojatu Foundation in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, taking place at Nottingham Conference Centre on the 3rd of September 2015.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.