Wednesday, October 16, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Makoni fights female genital mutilation in UK
19/09/2013 00:00:00
by Metro

COMMENT - Here we go again. Betty Makoni heads the 'Girl Child Network'. Betty Makoni'sprevious scam was child trafficking in Zimbabwe, now it is 'female genital mutilation' and child rape. I guess people get tired of the same old topics. From 2009:

(ZIMBABWE NEWS ONLINE) Tainted Betty Makoni loses CNN hero to a Filipino
Gibson Mabaya 22 November, 2009 10:00:00

" In November 2009 it was reported that the Netherlands based Oxfam Novib is launching an investigation into GCN's financial management amid claims that Betty Makoni misused donor funds.The GCN founder who recently relocated to Britain is arguing that these claims were initaited by Mugabe and ZANPF as a smear campaig to puul her down. "

Also see: (ALLAFRICA, THE HERALD ZW) Zimbabwe: UK Police Probe Betty Makoni
5 January 2010

" Harare — Police in Britain have launched investigations into alleged abuse of over £15 000 collected through a public appeal by Zimbabwean activist, Betty Makoni, following a petition signed in the United Kingdom demanding the activist to account for every penny donated. "

- MrK

WHEN Betty Makoni fled her native Zimbabwe for the safety of the UK’s Essex five years ago, it was out of fear for her life.

The women’s rights campaigner was chased out of Africa by a gang of masked men armed with axes and machetes who were threatening to kill her for ‘causing them problems’ by demanding justice for child rape victims.

Makoni needed Britain. Little did she know that Britain needed her. After all, she was coming to a country with all the resources and protection she had dreamt of - highly developed social services, prosecutors and therapists (‘I didn’t have counsellors; we didn’t have words like trauma’).

The plan was to run her Girl Child Network from Britain, continuing to rescue thousands of youngsters across Africa and train them to stand up to violence and abuse.
But when she scratched the surface of girls’ lives in Britain, Makoni says she got the shock of her life.

Chief among the challenges facing the 42-year-old is a form of child abuse that is rife in the UK: female genital mutilation (FGM).

While some schoolgirls have returned for the start of a new year with a glowing tan or new hairstyle, others are beginning the term with freshly brutalised bodies.

The government says more than 20,000 girls in Britain under the age of 15 are likely to be at high risk and about 66,000 women are living with the harrowing consequences.

Newborn girls are even being taken by their parents to have their labia and clitoris partially or totally removed. According to some traditions, the vagina is then sewn up until marriage, with a tiny opening left for urine and menstruation.

Some are taken back to Africa, Asia or the Middle East to be cut by female elders of the community, while others are mutilated in Britain – sometimes at ‘cutting parties’, where parents get a group deal.

Usually performed by unskilled practitioners with unsterilised instruments and no anaesthetic, FGM causes severe pain and psychological trauma and can lead to fatal infection.

Motivated by cultural beliefs, and with no medical benefits, it is often used to control women’s sexual behaviour. Reasons given include hygiene and aesthetics, purity and honour, birth control and the promotion of fertility.

Makoni was a victim of another form of genital mutilation – labia elongation – as a child. Instead of cutting the genitals out, she says the ‘whole private parts are pulled out’.

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“It can take up to six months and is as painful as cutting,” she says. “It is about changing your sexual organs to please men. Either a woman does it, or the girl is trained to do it herself. It is like forcing a child to masturbate. Labia elongation is rampant here with African girls.”

Makoni is no stranger to abuse against women. She was raped when a young girl and her mother died after being beaten by Makoni’s father when she was just nine. It has led to a lifelong quest for justice for others.
Since 1998, the empowerment programme she pioneered in Zimbabwe has helped up to 350,000 girls across six countries.

The mother-of-three’s work has led to her being appointed a gender-based violence expert for the Foreign Office and has seen her win 33 international accolades.

These include the 2007 World Children’s Prize, which she received alongside Nelson Mandela, while in 2011 Newsweek named her in its list of 150 women who shake the world.

She is already running her girls’ club model at one London school – a pilot she wants to roll out to every girls’ school in Britain.

“Yes, it’s in abundance here – schools, teachers, social services, but they are like thirsty people in a pool of water, they can’t reach it,” says Makoni. “So London has given me homework, big homework.”
Her first assignment is to get women talking.

She says: “I was raped as a six-year-old and there was silence around it in my neighbourhood. If we talked about stolen cars and stolen cows, how come not about the stolen dignities of women?”

Makoni sees many ways to eradicate FGM: empowering girls to speak out through her schools scheme; a change to the judicial system so charities can represent victims in court without their parents’ knowledge; and public condemnation by community leaders.
She says a successful formula in Britain could be the answer for millions of desperate girls abroad.

“The elders here are very powerful – they should make the statements,” she says. “Can you imagine a girl in Yemen stopping FGM any time this century?”

But first, perhaps, we must overcome our very British sensibilities.

Are political correctness and fear of causing offence the real stumbling blocks?
“I think it’s a massive problem,” says Makoni.

“But these kids are looking for people to actually protect them. They are kids, like any British kids; what’s harmful is universal. Of course we are sensitive – for how long are we going to be sensitive when there is death right in front of our eyes.”


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