London, 6 February 2012 – Sister Fa, the award-winning Senegalese urban soul and hip-hop artist will speak at a House of Commons event today about the progress made to end female genital cutting (FGC).
Recent winner of the highly prestigious Freedom to Create award – which showcases the creativity of artists who use their talents to promote social justice – Sister Fa will also be performing live for the first time in the UK today, the International Day Against Female Genital Cutting.
Three million girls in Africa alone are affected by FGC every year. It takes place in 28 African countries, parts of the Middle East and Asia, and in diaspora communities in the UK, Europe, USA and Australia. 140 million women live with the difficult consequences. However, recent progress has led to sweeping abandonment of FGC across West Africa, with over 6,200 communities choosing to end this practice – one of them is Sister Fa’s own community.
The House of Commons event, where both Home Office Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone MP and International Development Minister Stephen O’Brien are speaking, aims to raise awareness about the extent and scale of FGC as well as the opportunity around its abandonment.
This shows an unprecedented level of interest and greater collaboration from Westminster in the issue of ending female genital cutting. An All-Party Parliamentary Group on this issue was also launched in December 2011.
Sister Fa said: “I am an artist, a rapper and an activist, and because FGC affected my life so much, I want to talk about it. I still remember the day when it happened. I also know that things are changing and that when people understand they have a choice, they are able to change. There is hope for the future. I am just trying to speak for the many women who don’t have an opportunity to raise their own voices. I am giving them a voice through my music.”
Julia Lalla-Maharajh, CEO, Orchid Project, said: “Government needs to be investing in ending FGC, both overseas and in the UK. By meeting such an inspiring woman as Sister Fa, whose community have abandoned FGC, we’re hopeful more people will understand how change can happen. If we take this movement to scale, we could see its end within our lifetime. But to do this, we need concerted action.”
Minister for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, said:”This is a critical but neglected issue that deserves global attention. The extremely painful and often disabling consequences of female genital cutting are not only damaging to individual girls and women, but also affect their families and livelihoods. The UK is working in countries such as Kenya, Somalia and Senegal to help communities end this practice, and is looking at how we might do more to support its complete abandonment.”
Home Office Minister and Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women And Girls Overseas, Lynne Featherstone MP said: “Our key focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is prevention. Laws alone cannot eliminate it so we work with UK and international agencies on the ground to help prevent women and girls being subjected to this practice.
In the UK, we recently provided £50,000 funding to frontline organisations working to prevent FGM, as well as publishing a leaflet in a number of languages to help victims. We also published guidelines for frontline professionals, including teachers, GPs and nurses to help them identify women and girls at risk.”
The Guardian – ‘Senegalese hip-hop artist Sister Fa calls for an end to the mutilation of young girls’