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The Risk of FGM Hangs Above British Schoolgirls During Holiday Break

Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of FGM is ultimately the most effective channel

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Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, judge
A badge reads "The power of labor against FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 6, 2018. (VOA)

As many families prepare to holiday abroad during the festive season, British charities on Monday warned that girls taken overseas could be at risk of female genital mutilation(FGM)

Known as FGM, female genital mutilation is a ritual that usually involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia, including the clitoris. Some girls bleed to death or die from infections.

Cutting affects an estimated 200 million girls worldwide and is a rite of passage in many societies, often with the aim of promoting chastity, with the highest prevalence in Africa and parts of the Middle East.

An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM. Many cases go unnoticed because they had happened at a young age and abroad, campaigners say. Campaigners say teachers should look out for warning signs, such as when a child is taken abroad for a long time to a country where there is a high prevalence of female genital mutilation.

FGM
– A doctor checks her phone as she poses for a photograph in Mumbai, India, June 8, 2016. The 50-year-old woman defends what is widely considered female genital mutilation within her small, prosperous Dawoodi Bohra community in India. VOA

“The best way of preventing the practice is by working with girls and their families … and training professionals like teachers and social workers to spot girls at risk of FGM,” said Leethen Bartholomew, head of Britain’s National FGM Center.

Some warning signs that a girl might have been cut include difficulty walking or sitting down, spending a long time in the toilet or becoming withdrawn, said the Center, run by children’s charity Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association.

FGM has been a criminal offense in Britain since 1985. Legislation in 2003 made it illegal for British citizens to carry out or procure female genital mutilation abroad, even in countries where it is legal.

In 2015, it became mandatory for health professionals, social workers and teachers in Britain to report known cases of FGM to police.

FGM
FILE – A T-shirt warns against female genital mutilation. Its wearer attends an event, discouraging harmful practices such as FGM, at a girls high school in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

The practice mostly affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.

British-based charity Forward, which supports FGM survivors from African communities, said though teachers have a crucial role to play, they should not stigmatize certain communities.

“While teachers need to be alert at all times about safeguarding children in their care, we also need to ensure that some communities are not unduly targeted and stigmatized,” said Naana Otoo-Oyortey, executive director of FORWARD.

Also Read: Female Genital Mutilation Unconstitutional: Michigan Judge

“Ending FGM requires multiple entry points (and) enabling families and communities to be proactive in ending the practice of female genital mutilation is ultimately the most effective channel,” she said in emailed comments to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Britain in November pledged $63 million to combat female genital mutilation in Africa. (VOA)

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Reduce Heart Disease Risk by Quitting Smoking

The cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly after quitting smoking

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smoking is injurious
Researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of men and women from Massachusetts, which began enrolment in 1948. Pixabay

Heavy cigarette smokers can reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years if they quit, researchers said.

It takes at least five to 10 years and perhaps up to 25 years after quitting, for CVD risk to become as low as that of a person who has never smoked, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“The cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly after quitting smoking, even for people who have smoked heavily over decades,” said Hilary Tindle, Founding Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco Addiction and Lifestyle (ViTAL).

Researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of men and women from Massachusetts, which began enrolment in 1948.

smoking is injurious
Heavy cigarette smokers can reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years if they quit. Pixabay

Also Read: New Study Suggests Living Near Parks and Nature Linked to Greater Happiness

The study used prospective data from 1954 through 2014 from 8,770 participants to determine the effect of lifetime smoking and smoking cessation on the risk of CVD, which includes myocardial infarction, stroke, CVD death and heart failure.

“Our team documented what happens to CVD risk after quitting smoking relative to people who continued to smoke and to those who never smoked,” said study lead author Meredith Duncan from Vanderbilt University. (IANS)