The UK's first ever Girl Summit, aimed at ending FGM and forced child marriage, is underway.
Parents who allow female genital mutilation to take place or fail to protect their daughters will be prosecuted, the Prime Minister announced today at the UK’s first Girl Summit. This significant step in the fight to end FGM in a generation – already illegal in the UK – means that failure to report instances of the horrific practice will also become a criminal offence.
Marie Claire was at Girl Summit where David Cameron announced, in addition to the legislation, that the government is launching a £1.4 million prevention programme to protect girls from FGM and support survivors. The major breakthrough also means that survivors of FGM will be granted lifelong anonymity, something currently granted to victims of rape and sexual assault. It comes in light of shocking new figures that show there are currently 137,000 women and girls living with the consequences of FGM.
‘We need to build a global movement that doesn’t end here but starts here,’ he told the 600-strong crowd, insisting that he wants his daughters to grow up with the same opportunities as boys have. It’s a small step in a growing movement and, as Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, said in her opening speech: ‘Everyone has their part to play until we end FGM for everyone, everywhere, forever. Let’s make this summit the turning point for girls everywhere.’
Theresa May, who earlier addressed the crowd of women, men and youth delegates, spoke exclusively to Marie Claire to say: ‘Female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage both violate the rights of girls and women. They are totally unacceptable forms of abuse, which must end. But we can’t do it alone. We need to change attitudes at home and abroad in order to help the next generation of girls and women flourish. I commend the work of Marie Claire to raise awareness of these harmful practices.’
Girls rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai also made a moving and empowering speech about the power of our voices, and why it’s time to keep talking. ‘I was one of those girls deprived of an education but I kept talking. I am still talking. Voices have the power to bring change. We don’t need guns and weapons. Just voices.’
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