Body Image, Equal Treatment, ethic minority, Evening Standard, Freedom of Speech, Gender, Immigration, Women's Rights

The often taboo topic of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was raised sensitively in the media last month.

Thousands of girls mutilated in Britain

Reversing female circumcision

I am proud that the UK is leading the way in Europe by assisting victims of this savage crime quickly and confidently via advertising a targeted NHS service to reverse female circumcision.

In the European Parliament one of the changes in attitude that the Daphne fund (one of the EU’s prime sources of funding for awareness-raising, prevention and protection of victims of FGM) sought to achieve is an end to the grimly scandal mongering tones occasionally struck by media’s coverage of FGM. Such tones often only serve to make affected women feel guilty, hence wounding them psychologically and increasing their sense of being an outsider.

I think it is an outrage that, despite 25 years of legislation, not a single person has faced prosecution for the barbarous act of female circumcision, which claims the well-being of approximately 500 girls a year in Britain.

At the end of last month I supported a resolution, put forward in the European Parliament Women’s Committee, to make all EU Member States enforce their existing laws on FGM and introduce new tough measures to stamp out cultural tolerance of this practice.

Locally everyone can make a difference by helping to integrate immigrant families more successfully. Female genital mutilation is carried out in accordance with tradition in certain communities in the UK. These traditions come from other parts of the world and flourish in other European countries.

There therefore needs to be a massive global effort to break through these barriers and protect girls from this barbaric practice.

A very good video explaining the effects and attitudes towards FGM in Somaliland can be seen here:


Child Safety, Children, Immigration

In June, the Liberal Democrats and Tories joined forces in support of an unbelievably unjust report “on common standards and procedures for the return of third country nationals residing illegally”.

European Labour MEPs, tried to amend the report to prevent unaccompanied children from being deported, unless their family or guardian was able to look after them when they were returned to their home country. There were obviously concerns that if unaccompanied minors were deported, alone, without any supervision, they could fall victim to paedophiles or child slavery or any of the other myriad of dangers that we know could occur.

Almost all Tory and Lib Dem MEPs voted against this specific amendment.

The UK opts out of EU wide immigration legislation preferring to create its own national legislation. Here at the European Parliament, protocol dictates that when a report does not affect their country MEPs can vote on individual amendments but should abstain from voting on the whole report, passing it into legislation. That was exactly what both Labour and Tory MEPs did.

Lib Dem MEPs, however, threw protocol to the wind and voted in favour of the whole report. They backed a raft of draconian measures, including deporting children, with little concern for their welfare after they had been deported.

As I have said before, with such a hard-right agenda it is difficult to see where the word ‘liberal’ fits into Liberal Democrat. Mind you, when Lib Dems vote for directives such as this one it’s hard to see them as true ‘democrats’ either.