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Why should the British public care about FGM?
The recent Global summit to end sexual violence in London was unique in its ambition; not only in efforts to bring sexual violence in conflict to an end, but also in attempting to engage the public in a challenging issue about which they had little prior knowledge and mostly no personal experience or connection. The public came to learn about the impact of sexual violence in conflict, and the work that's being done to stop it; as survivors conveyed their stories, there was a powerful sense that together, people from around the world were standing up against the perpetrators of these crimes.
As the UK manager of a global campaign for girls' rights, Because I am a Girl, understanding and fostering this sense of solidarity is important. I've become keenly aware of this as we re-launch our campaign this month, opening with a focus on violence against women and girls and, in particular, female genital mutilation (FGM).
FGM is an issue that provokes strong reactions; the appearance of an 'us and them' mentality is a risk. People from communities affected by FGM may feel that other aspects of their culture are being challenged or degraded while those in unaffected communities may take FGM as evidence of 'alien' values, feeding negative stereotyping.
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