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- FGM-Female Genital Mutilation is a practice that affects some 200 million women and girls worldwide
- It’s illegal across the EU where the cutters often come for a short period of time, they cut a load of girls and then they go back to their homelands
- Sanctions against offenders include fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years – 20 if the victim is a minor – even if the cutting takes place abroad
SAINT-DENIS, FRANCE — The young women come in for contraception, or because it’s their first pregnancy. Many don’t even know they were victims of a painful and sometimes deadly practice that may have happened long before puberty.
“They find out during their first gynaecological examination,” says midwife Elodie Edmont about female genital mutilation, or FGM. “They’ll say it’s not possible, because they were born in France.”
Edmont is speaking from a new women’s center outside Paris, one of the few in France that offers a holistic treatment of FGM, a practice that affects some 200 million women and girls worldwide, according to the United Nations, including up to 60,000 or more in France.
Across the European Union, migration is boosting the numbers of FGM victims – which a European Parliament report estimates at about half-a-million – as it is in the United States.
Many of the victims arrived here already cut. Others are cut during vacations back in the ‘home’ country, or even in EU member states. But inadequate reporting, awareness and funds make it difficult to gauge the size of the problem, must less fight it, experts say.
“Many member states do have the political will, but they’re not putting their resources where their mouth is,” says Natalie Kontoulis, communications and advocacy officer for End FGM European Network, a Brussels-based umbrella group. “They’re not putting in place the funding and they’re cutting the services that are needed.”
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France offers one of Europe’s toughest responses to an ancient tradition that predates Islam and Christianity, and mostly affects its large African immigrant population.
Sanctions against offenders include fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years – 20 if the victim is a minor – even if the cutting takes place abroad. It is also considered one of Europe’s top places of refuge from FGM, which can be grounds for asylum claims.
But activists and medical practitioners say law-and-order is only part of the answer.
“We’re facing a practice that’s anchored by culture,” says midwife Edmont. “It’s very hard for a woman to go against something she’s been taught to believe in since she was born. It’s almost like betraying her origins.”
Located in Seine-Saint-Denis, one of the poorest and most ethnically mixed departments of France, the women’s center offers an array of specialists, including sexologists and psychologists, under one roof. It is tied to a local public hospital that is among the rare in France to specialize in FGM.
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Some 14 percent of mothers giving birth there have been cut, although the center, which opened in July, treats a range of women’s issues.
“Many of the women who come here are victims of domestic violence” including sexual abuse, says the center’s midwife coordinator Mathilde Delespine. Others come for mundane gynecological problems.
“There are also patients who have been cut or want to protect their children from being cut,” Delespine said.
On a recent afternoon, Delespine ushers Miriam and her two small children into an examination room. The young Malian immigrant, whose real name is being withheld for her safety, has arrived from Spain, directed to the center by a French NGO.
She still remembers when she was cut, bundled at the age of seven into a village toilet in her native Mali, while a woman performed the procedure. Now, she fears her five-month-old daughter will be next. Her husband cannot find work in Spain, and wants to return to Mali.
“All my sisters were cut,” she says. “The same with their children. It’s a practice in my village.”
Delespine probes gently. Does she love her husband? She shows sketches of the female anatomy and suggests how Miriam might still get sexual pleasure.
“By better understanding their bodies, these women can diminish their shame that they’re not complete, not sufficiently capable of having a sexuality that’s harmonious and satisfying,” she says later.
A small number of FGM victims are cut inside the European Union, activist Kontoulis says, although evidence is often anecdotal.
“The cutters often come for a short period of time, they cut a load of girls and then they go back to their homelands,” she says. “So they’re hard to find, and the community closes ranks and won’t disclose them.”
FGM is illegal across the EU, where the European Parliament estimates 180,000 women and girls are at risk each year. Yet few countries strictly enforce national laws or put in place measures to turn back the tide, activists say.
In some cases, however, that is changing. Judges in Britain, which has among the highest cutting rates, are beginning to issue FGM protection orders. In Belgium, grassroots organizations are creating tools to help health care and other professionals detect risks and take preventative action, End FGM’s Kontoulis says.
France has jailed roughly 100 people under a broader penal code that also addresses mutilation and the abuse of minors.
“It’s a good law, but it’s not enough,” says Marguerite Bannwarth, of French NGO Equipop. “There has to be a behavioral change within practicing communities for real change.”
Equipop trains community activists in France’s immigrant community, and works with local NGOs to change mindsets in Mali’s western Kayes region, which has a sizeable diaspora in France.
In some cases, experts say, home communities have abandoned cutting, while the diaspora holds on to old practices.
“It may be because of lack of information that the practice is illegal, or the sense of feeling fragile,” Kontoulis says. “They see cutting as part of their identity and cultural tradition.”
At the women’s home, Delespine examines Miriam’s tiny daughter and writes out a certificate attesting she has not been cut. The document aims to protect the girl from leaving French territory to a country where FGM is practiced.
It is one solution for the toddler, but not for a wider problem that remains stubbornly alive.
The nursery rhyme Goosey Goosey Gander is filled with multiple meanings. It is another one of those rhymes believed to have emerged from the time of great persecution in England during the Reformation. It also holds a contemporary, colloquial meaning.
The original verse goes something like this:
Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair (allnurseryrhymes.com)
There are other versions that deal with more specific ideas from which separate meanings have been interpreted.
Catholic priests being killed for continuing to keep the faith Image source: wikimedia commons
The primary interpretation is believed to be regarding the Catholic priests getting persecuted by King Henry VIII and his Protestant successors. Catholicism in England was frowned upon when King Henry established the Church of England. Anyone practicing Catholicism was put to death for treason. Many of the courtiers were hanged on this charge, and are noted in history as being martyrs for their faith.
Those who managed to practice their religion without being discovered did so in what was called a 'priest hole'. These were small rooms in the walls of a house that was covered by tapestry or a bookshelf. The required prayer instruments would be placed here, and the person would retire to this chamber at night, or at a time when they were not required elsewhere. The goose that wanders her mistress's house in the nursery rhyme discovers such a person, presumably a priest, and exposes him, or 'throws him down the stair'.
An alternative meaning to this rhyme originates from the lower class of England's population, a colloquial term used widely among the non-rich. The word 'goose' was used commonly to address a prostitute, and here, could possibly refer to a woman who has acquired an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). "Whither shall I wander?/ Upstairs and downstairs/ And in my lady's chamber," could be a reference to the spread of an infection that a man acquires from such a woman, which causes him to be ostracised from his community. It was quite common in England for an upper-classman to bed a lower-class woman in the society of those days.
It is rather interesting that such a practice would turn into folklore, and in turn, become a rhyme sung by little children all over the world. It has certain amusing images no doubt, but not without raising questions. England of the times of Reformation was certainly a dark place, with a terribly dark heritage.
Keywords: Heritage, Rhymes, Folklore, England, Reformation
Many individuals struggle with psychological distress at home because most of us spend the whole day doing nothing. Being trapped inside our homes may seem inconvenient, but if you have the time and patience, the time spent indoors offers the ideal chance to learn new abilities. Whether you want to transform your body by following a daily routine with the help of millions of tutorials available across platforms, or you want to learn coding, cooking, a new language, here are some skills you can learn from the comfort of your home.
- A new language: Learning a new language online from the comfort of one's own home is simple and relatively inexpensive, thanks to apps such as Duolingo and Busuu. Gaining knowledge of a new language improves your communication skills. It allows you to communicate with a more significant number of individuals and open new doors, and expand your perspectives. Although most of us cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, do not allow that to stop you from upskilling yourself.
Gaining knowledge of a new language improves your communication skills. | Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
- Writing: When it comes to skills, writing is one of the essential ones you may possess. It is the primary mode of communication for most people, particularly in this day and age with the internet, texting, and social media. Writing also has the added benefit of improving your public speaking abilities. Books, online courses, videos, and, of course, actual writing practice are all excellent resources for learning how to enhance your writing skills.
When it comes to skills, writing is one of the essential ones you may possess. | Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
- Programming: Programming is one of the highest-paying professions available that does not require the completion of a Bachelor's degree. So even if you didn't pursue a degree in computer science in college, you may still benefit from this skill. Understanding the fundamentals of programming allows you to assist in the launch of an application, the optimization of a website for search engines, and the creation or editing of content. Many online platforms are available to assist you in learning to code. Recently, I also enrolled for C/C++ programming on Internshala.
Programming is one of the highest-paying professions available that does not require the completion of a Bachelor's degree. | Photo by Danial Igdery on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Which Is More Important- Degree or Skill?
- Typing Skill: Learning to type quickly and correctly will benefit you in a variety of ways throughout your life, and it should be regarded as a fundamental skill for anybody who intends to work with computers in the future. There are many websites that provide classes to help you learn the fundamentals, and then, after you have mastered the fundamentals, more advanced courses to help you improve your abilities further.
Learning to type quickly and correctly will benefit you in a variety of ways throughout your life. | Photo by Burst on Unsplash
- Video Editing: Video is unquestionably the most powerful marketing and promotional medium available for music, goods, services, news, and educational purposes. There is a strong possibility that video editing may become the next big thing. At the moment, video production does not need large financial investments; just having access to a computer is all that is required if you possess the right video editing skills. Besides YouTube, which has a large number of detailed videos on video editing, you may discover courses on Udemy and Lynda that can assist you in learning the necessary skills
There is a strong possibility that video editing may become the next big thing. | Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash
Another thing you may do when you're stuck at home is work on your personal development. We should all strive to improve ourselves as individuals. Here are some ways through which can understand the Significance Of Self-Love And How To Nurture It.
Keywords: Skills, home, COVID, pandemic, coding, language, typing, self-love, writing
Heinz has just rolled out a new product that the condiment company says is the "biggest innovation in sauce since the packet itself." Earlier this month, the world's largest producer of ketchup announced the Packet Roller, a ketchup bottle-shaped gadget that allows users to squeeze the most out of a condiment packet, CNN reported.
"Do not click 'purchase' unless you are prepared to change everything about the way you sauce," the Heinz Packet Roller website says. The roller goes for $5.70. The roller is pocket-sized, can be added to a keychain, and features a packet corner cutter.
Heinz has just rolled out a new product that the condiment company says is the "biggest innovation in sauce since the packet itself | Flickr
This announcement could be part of the fast-tracked, "future-focused culinary and packaging innovations" that Steve Cornell, president of Kraft Heinz's US grocery business unit, hinted at earlier this year amid a shortage of ketchup. A surge in takeout and delivery food orders during the pandemic led to a scarcity of ketchup packets, the report said.
In April, Heinz pledged to increase production of ketchup by 25 per cent to 12 billion packets annually. "Gone are the days of fumbling with ketchup packets, pants ruined by mustard disasters, and minutes taken off your life trying to get to the bottom of that mayo packet. With the patent-pending Heinz Packet Roller, what was once taxing becomes simple -- just snip and roll to squeeze out every drop of your sauce of choice," the website says
Keywords: Heinz, Packet roller, sauce, company, ketchup