...and Elizabeth needs help to break down barriers that face the deaf
David Cameron’s policies are not, it would be fair to say, univerally popular. But his pledge to end the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation within a generation should be applauded for its ambition.
The alteration of a woman’s genitalia for non-medical purposes, in the most extreme cases preventing sexual intercourse, has no place in the modern world. And though support for it is slowly falling, it’s estimated that more than 130 million girls and women have been subjected to such abuse.
Nor is this something that is merely practised outside of the West. Hospitals in Leeds have referred nearly 350 women to a specialist FGM clinic since 2011. Yet, despite it being illegal in this country, there has not been a single conviction to date – a state of affairs that must change.
In many places where FGM is practised, there is no law against it, or if there is, it’s not implemented. And politicians have been afraid to push too far. There was a UN resolution in 2012 to ban FGM worldwide and now is the time for the international community to make this happen. The difficulty, however, is that this is not just about legislation.
If abuse of this kind is to be banished then it is first necessary to create a cultural sea change in countries where eight-year-olds are routinely – and forcibly – married to men in their 30s. And that could take far longer than a generation to achieve.
Elizabeth needs helps to break down barriers
LEEDS teacher Elizabeth Bojas is on a mission to break down the walls that can exist between deaf people and the rest of society through her teaching of sign language.
Elizabeth, who is herself deaf, is a worthy winner of the regional teacher of the year award in the annual Signature Awards.
As inspirational as her teaching is, however, she and her colleagues cannot remove every barrier that stands in the way of those with hearing problems.
For that to happen it will take the whole of society to recognise the needs of such groups and learn what is needed to make life easier for them.