#MeTooFGM to reach a million people on Zero Tolerance Day, with UNICEF support

6th February 2018

A  worldwide social media Thunderclap[1] will be  launched in Dublin at 2.00pm GMT on Tuesday 6th February at the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin’s Smithfield, led by one of Ireland biggest campaigners against the practice survivor Ifrah Ahmed, the Somali born,  Dublin based 29 year old campaigner and the Global Media Campaign to End FGM

The aim is to mark zero tolerance day for FGM with a million #MeToo supporters joining their sisters with #MeTooFGM.

Hundreds of activists form the major FGM organisations such as Akidwa will be out in force as well as  journalists and religious leaders. Stars such as Ireland’s Imelda May, have committed to take part in the Thunderclap. Using the hashtag #MeTooFGM it will be launched at exactly 2.00 pm on Tuesday 6th February,  from the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin’s Smithfield, where a screening and panel discussion will be hosted from 12 noon.

Ahmed, is working with the Global Media Campaign to End FGM, to launch the one event linking the hashtag #MeTooFGM and the 200 million girls and women who have survived FGM to the resurgent women’s movement ignited by the harassment and violence against women exposed initial in Hollywood. FGM activists are joining with the #MeToo movement to urge the world to recognise the widespread violation of women worldwide by FGM. The forcible removal of a child/woman’s genital has been recorded as far back as 3000 BC, but according to figures from Unicef,  one child is STILL  being mutilated somewhere in the world every six seconds.

The Thunderclap is designed to bring world attention for the UN day to end FGM by refocusing attention on abuse of women and the survivor led media campaigns being used to tackle it, and will be echoed across six continents by activists and media houses.

It is hoped that, starting in Dublin, the Thunderclap will reach one million twitter users across Africa, the US,  Asia and Australia by midnight on Tuesday 6th February,  Zero Tolerance Day.

The launch of #MeTooFGM is organised by the Ifrah Foundation and the Global Media Campaign, a charity founded at the Guardian newspaper in 2014, which uses the power of the media, social and traditional, worldwide to empower activists and religious leaders fighting FGM.

“Female Genital Mutilation is the ultimate form of violence against women and female children… the forcible removal of a child’s sexual organs to control her sexuality has been going on since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs”  says Ahmed, the 29 year old survivor and international campaigner “We are calling on all women everywhere, who care about women’s rights to support their sisters in 30 countries across the world to call for an end to FGM”. says  Ifrah Ahmed, who is leading the call for #MeTooFGM

Ireland has played a huge part in the struggle to end FGM globally with activists such as Ifrah Ahmed, of the Ifrah Foundation. Irish NGOs and media have also supported hundreds of grassroots activists around the world through grants and films. Irish documentary makers are also behind the first ever full feature film on FGM, Girl from Mogadishu and award winning feature documentary Jaha’s Promise, the first feature length documentary.

Special guests who will be joining Ifrah on stage to watch a promo of her film and a 18 minute cut of the Global Media Campaign’s Jaha’s Promise, will be: Comfort Momoh MBE, a world renowned campaigner against FGM and Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh and Anne Cassin of RTE.

The big UN agencies UNFPA and UNICEF, as well as ‘Save The Children’ are backing Ifrah’s  call to link  #MeToo to #MeTooFGM – the call for women worldwide to take the powerful and growing backlash against sexual abuse  in the film, arts and the workplace to the next stage – a united call from women worldwide to #MeTooFGM.

It’s estimated that 200 million women and girls worldwide have had their genitals mutilated to control their sexuality – a practice that goes back over 3000 years but is rife in the world today,   with over 90 percent of women in Egypt, Somalia victims of ritual mutilation of the most extreme kind, the removal of the clitoris and the labia and the sewing up of the vagina.

“FGM is the most extreme form of violence against women”,  say organiser and FGM survivor Ifrah Ahmed,  we want our  #MeToo  sisters to come out with us and stop it. And make #MeTooFGM, a  new social media campaign to link the #MeToo movement to the global movement to end female genital mutilation.

“Why FGM isn’t considered to be the biggest feminist issues of our time is a mystery to us all.That’s why #MeTooFGM is a real opportunity for western women’s rights activists – men , women everywhere to use Zero Tolerance Day for FGM to send out this hashtag of empathy and empowerment.” said Maggie O’Kane of the Global Media Campaign to End FGM.

Mary McGuckian,  the writer and director of A Girl From Mogadishu says that it is women like Ifrah who bring the awareness of FGM to new levels:

I salute the courage of Ifrah and her fellow activists for sharing their experiences of FGM/C under the auspices of the #MeToo movement.

Their personal testimonies are a powerful reminder of the faces behind the facts”

Hundreds of women, are expected to take part in the launch at the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin’s ancient Smithfield market area with a sneak preview of the trailer for the world’s first feature film on FGM, A Girl From Mogadishu.

Nafissatou Diop of the UNFPA who has been leading the UN’s campaign to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation called on activists to take to social media at 1400 GMT,  0900 EST, 1700 EAT on 6th February to call for a united front of women worldwide.  “ This is not some ancient ethnic culture that has to be respected it is an assault on girls and women rights and it needs a bold global response. Ending Female Genital Mutilation needs unity and need it urgently. Huge progress has been made over the last 8 years but we really need to accelerate as we want to see zero “0“case of FGM in 2030.”  she said.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power says: UNICEF Ireland supports #MeTooFGM because it is high time to eliminate female genital mutilation from the face of the earth forever and initiatives like this will bring us closer to that better, healthier world we have set our sights on.”

The call to expand the MeToo movement to include FGM is also backed by a number of high profile campaigners,  some of whom have spent almost 30 years working to end female genital mutilation.   Comfort Momoh (MBE) who ran one  of the oldest clinics repairing damage caused by FGM said:  “I’ve been saying this for years.  giving  women and girls power and  voice is very crucial to ending the practice. Sisters are now working together from strength to strength for a world without FGM – supporting #MeTooFGM – it’s about time and you are not alone “ 

Although,  officially FGM is known to be practiced in 30 countries  – new evidence is emerging of mutilation taking place in Georgia, Russia, Colombia and across Asia, in India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The prevalence of FGM is still high across the world. Ninety five percent of women in Somalia are mutilated; in Egypt the figure is 90 percent.  In both Egypt and Somalia, the more extreme form of female genital mutilation is practiced widely, which involves the removing of the clitoris, the labia and sewing up of the vagina leaving a small hole for passing of urine.

The medical effects are devastating as the mutilation leads to scar tissue in the cervix which doesn’t stretch as it does during normal labour leading to mothers and children dying in childbirth.    In some parts of East Kenya, where the worst form of FGM is practiced, it is estimated that one in ten will die in childbirth – in part, because of FGM.

Press release from Ifrah Foundation/Global Media Campaign to End FGM.

 

Additional Information

 

To interview Ifrah Ahmed please call her direct on +353868375135

Maggie O’Kane,  Director of Global Media Campaign  on +447769640685

Mary McGuckian,  Writer Director of A Girl From Mogadishu on mary@pembridgepictures.ie

 

 

 

 

[1] #MeTooFGM Thunderclap link: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/67441-share-show-you-care-endfgm