London mayor Khan urged to lead campaign on female genital mutilation

London's mayor, Sadiq Khan. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 April 2017

London mayor Khan urged to lead campaign on female genital mutilation

LONDON: London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, should lead a high profile campaign to end "the hidden crime" of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the capital, the city's assembly said on Tuesday.
An estimated 170,000 women and girls in Britain have undergone FGM and 65,000 pre-teen girls are thought to be at risk, the London Assembly said in a report.
Half of FGM cases recorded in the country are in London, where affected communities include Somalis, Sierra Leoneans, Eritreans and Sudanese.
The ritual, done for cultural, traditional or religious reasons, involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia. In some cases the vaginal opening is also sewn up.
"FGM remains a hidden crime - still taking place behind closed doors, with many girls still at risk," Jennette Arnold, deputy chairwoman of the elected assembly, said in a statement.
The report said many professionals, such as police, teachers health and social workers, were not confident about how to respond to cases of FGM, which can cause serious physical and emotional problems.
It called for the mayor to help improve coordination between frontline services and highlighted the need for better training.
"We need to be bold, strong and ambitious," Arnold said. "I am more determined than ever that London becomes a 'zero cutting city'."
National efforts to eradicate FGM have gained momentum in recent years with the once taboo subject making the headlines.
Health workers and teachers are now required to report cases of FGM in under 18s.
Britain has also strengthened the law on FGM which was outlawed in 1985, although there has never been a successful prosecution.
But the London Assembly report said many believed the emphasis should be on preventing FGM and supporting those at risk rather than pursuing prosecutions.
It also called for increased efforts to engage boys and men in combating the ancient ritual which some families believe prevents promiscuity.
FGM activist Hibo Wardere said having Khan spearhead a London-wide campaign would make "a massive difference".
"Everybody should make it their business to end FGM - it doesn't matter what community you're from," added Wardere who wrote about undergoing FGM as a child in Somalia in her recently published memoir "Cut"..
The mayor did not comment on whether he would lead a campaign, but his deputy mayor for policing, Sophie Linden, said he was committed to tackling the "appalling practice".
"We need to ... ensure that people who carry out such barbaric practices are brought to justice," she said.


UN experts fault Italy in 2013 drownings of over 200 migrants

Updated 28 January 2021

UN experts fault Italy in 2013 drownings of over 200 migrants

  • Italy ‘failed to respond promptly’ to distress calls of the ship

GENEVA: Independent human rights experts who work with the United Nations say Italy failed to protect the “right to life” of over 200 migrants who died when the boat they were on sank in the Mediterranean Sea over seven years ago.
The Human Rights Committee also called on Italian authorities to “proceed with an independent and timely investigation and to prosecute those responsible” for the deaths.
The boat departed from Libya on Oct. 10, 2013 carrying some 400 people, mostly Syrians. In a decision published Wednesday, the committee said Italy “failed to respond promptly” to distress calls after the vessel was shot “by a boat flying a Berber flag in international waters” some 113 kilometers south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The committee of 18 experts says distress calls to Italian authorities were redirected to Malta, which was some 218 kilometers away. By the time a Maltese patrol boat arrived the boat had capsized. More than 200 people, including 60 children, drowned.
Committee member Helene Tigroudja called it a “complex case” since the migrants’ boat was in international waters within Malta’s search and rescue zone, but she said a timely response might have averted the tragedy.
“Had the Italian authorities immediately directed its naval ship and coast guard boats after the distress calls, the rescue would have reached the vessel at the latest two hours before it sank,” Tigroudja said.

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