Thursday, 19 March 2015

Comic Relief on FGM: Stop cutting our girls

FGM: Stop cutting our Girls

Comic Relief bravely and successfully raises the issue of Female Genital Mutilation in their BBC documentary (live last Wednesday at 10pm and now available on BBC iPlayer).  Zawe Ashton investigates FGM abroad and in the UK. Hard-hitting documentary 'Stop cutting our Girls' highlights the fact that millions of women are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Please note that some of this documentary is unpleasant and the subject material may not be for the feint hearted.

Shocking Statistics about FGM

Comic Relief's documentary reveals some shocking statistics, including the fact that 130000 UK have survived FGM and that over 3 million women worldwide are at risk of FGM. Several UK survivors of FGM were brave enough to raise awareness in this documentary and share their stories.The reality of FGM is that it leaves both physical and emotional scars. Girls are at risk of bleeding and infection. Many survivors of FGM not be able to have children in the future.

The Problem with Discussing FGM and Raising Awareness

Many people either don't know what FGM is. The removal of the female genitalia is abuse. Of those who know what FGM is, many do not  fully understand it or do not realise how widespread the problem is, particularly in the African subcontinent.

Many people do not talk about FGM as it is still a taboo subject. Zawe Ashton experiences the difficulty in discussing these issues when she visits an FGM workshop in a school in East London. How can FGM be discussed when the students are not really aware of female body parts?

Trying to Prevent FGM

The Comic Relief special speaks to the UK Border Forces who explain the vigilance needed during what is referred to as 'Cutting Season'.  Border Force agents were stopping people at the airport to both raise awareness and challenge those who could potentially be taking girls to be 'cut'.

Despite raising awareness in the UK, there are many parts of Africa where FGM is seen as a tradition that should be continued through generations. Even where FGM is illegal, there is evidence of it taking place illegally. Zawe Ashton bravely interviews a woman in Kenya who is a 'cutter' and reveals that it is seen as a business.

The 'backlash' against girls who are anti-FGM in parts of Africa needs to be tackled to solve the problem of FGM. Education needs to take place at a grass roots level. The World Health Organisation has conducted an international response, with a WHO resolution to eliminate FGM.

 Image: @BBC

Stop Cutting Our Girls, FGM

Monday, 16 February 2015

When is Fairtrade Fortnight 2015?

When is Fairtrade Fortnight?

Fair trade Fortnight 2015 is 23rd February - 8th March. Why is Fairtrade important, and what do campaigners aim to change?

Fair Trade Fortnight 2015

Why is Fairtrade Important?

Many commodities (raw materials) are grown or farmed in LEDC's (Less Economically Developed Countries), yet the ones who profit are usually the trans-national corporatios of the MEDC's (More Economically Developed Countries). Doesn't really seem fair, does it? Especially when many producers are living in poverty, while the business owners are living in luxury in the developed world.

Often, the problem is related to a lack of initial resurces and facilities. For example, Ethiopian coffee farmers work long hours for little pay to grow and farm coffee beans. But they do not grid it due to a lack of grinding facilities. This is where the real money can be made, but it is made by the larger companies of the developed world who have the capital to resource their businesses.

An excellent series to watch on the reality of life for producers in LEDC's in Blood, Sweat and Luxuries. A group of British students visit developing counries including a coffee farm in Ethiopia and a Gold Mine in Ghana.

What do Fairtrade Campaigners want to change?

Fair trade is important because it is about giving a fair wage and reinvesting money into the communities of LEDC countries. This could be on education, heathcare and infrastrucutre.

In addition, it is about policy change to support LEDC's. MEDC governments subsidise farmers and local producers. Otherwise, their own farmers would be out jobs, because their prices would be undercut by the produce of LEDC's which is cheaper. Quite often, tarrifs make it more difficult and expensive for LEDC's to trade in MEDC's. It almost seems like the rich get richer and thee poor get poorer. SO policy change is also at the heart of fair trade campaigning.

The UK government do help traders to import from certain LEDC's. For example, when I imported from Rwanda through Kigali Crafts, goods were duty exempt.