Goodmorning dear followers! Hope you are doing well and are having a good start of your Tuesday:)
As some of you may have seen in my stories on Instagram, I participated in the Zero Tolerance Day – conference last week. The Zero Tolerance Day is organized by multiple organizations and was held in the Library of Amsterdam on February 6th, International Zero Tolerance Day.. These organizations (called Platform 6/2) together fight against FGM: Female Genital Mutilation. The main focus of the day has been ‘ working together to stop FGM.’
During the conference we got multiple masterclasses on this topic and how we can fight it together. Such inspiring thoughts and sights were shared! After the masterclasses we were able to join multiple workshops in smaller groups, were we learned more about a specific topic. After the workshops, we got together again to finish up the meeting, share insights after the workshops and network.
FGM isn’t a new topic to me, but it’s my first time I actively participated and joined the fight against it. During this conference I learned a lot about the principles and history of FGM. Research told us that at least 200 million girls worldwide have gotten Female Genital Mutilation. I have been very intrigued by the women who joined my first workshop. In the smaller group, women from Saudi, Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Malawi joined us to tell us about the real story. About what happened to their bodies when they were only six years old. They told us about the pain, the way they were treated and how they were suppose to stay strong. They were not aloud to cry or scream.
They spoke about the way it’s part of the culture, how they didn’t know better until they came to Europe. How it’s part of a believe you are ‘clean’ for a future husband one’s you got FGM, how families are ashamed of other families if their girls haven’t yet undergone the procedure. I was so shocked to hear they were already twenty years old, before they got to see what happened to them. That what happened there, is not how other women in the world are treated. How a woman is supposed to ‘look’ down there. They didn’t exactly know because they were too young.
These strong women stand up for others now. They tell their story, to show it’s not normal. To help women in The Netherlands who suffer with the same trauma. To talk about it, something that is so uncommon. To spread the word and stop the communities from doing it. I think these women are so inspiring, so brave!
But a key point from this day was also to spread the word around men, to involve men. Because from cultural perspective, the man in the family decides to start the FGM for a girl. The man should start saying no!
That’s why I also stand for spreading the story, fighting against FGM. Because this is so shocking, this should stop! I am thankful for the stories they shared with us and the campaigns that were let by the big organizations in order to spread awareness.
Platform 6/2 is a cooperation of Amref Flying Doctors, Defence for Children-ECPAT Nederland, Federatie Somalische Associaties Nederland (FSAN), Pharos expertisecentrum gezondheidsverschillen en Plan International Nederland)