Skin, lead singer from the famous British rock band, Skunk Anansie, recently accepted the offer to become a patron of FORWARD.
When did you first become aware of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
“I first became aware about FGM in London. I was involved with a group of black women who used to hold a performance-based event called ‘Sauda’, which was run and organised by black women for black women. We had all types of performances ranging from poetry to comedy to music and singing followed by a party till six in the morning. Some of the performances were about FGM and this is how I really began to understand the weight of an issue I’d only previously seen glimpses of.”
Have you been to a country where FGM is practised?
“Unfortunately I think I have been to many countries where FGM is practised: 15,000 operations of this type are performed in England alone. I recently travelled with Amnesty International to West Africa and attended a conference about FGM. Everyone was there, from doctors and nurses in hospitals used to dealing with women who are trying to give birth after having their sexual organs sewn together years before, to the actual village women who have practised this on their young girls for decades. I have also talked to representatives of FORWARD in America where FGM is illegally practised, so sadly, wherever you are girls are being cut, even in countries where legislation against FGM exists.”
Why do you think the campaign against FGM is important?
“I think this issue is of a particular importance to me as I feel that it is the most horrific and basic attack on the health and strength of women across the world. Our clitorises are the core of our own private, personal and mental well being. It is the foundation of our womanhood and the centre of our individual spiritual and sexual pleasure and power. To take that and to destroy it is too completely ruin forever this centre, which is almost impossible to replace.
I feel that this is an issue about the ultimate in sexual control. It is an attempt to undermine the power and strength a woman naturally has and it is completely successful in killing the most fundamental way a woman can enjoy sex. I feel that sexual pleasure is a basic right of every human being on the planet regardless of gender, culture or race. When you cut away the sexual organs of a girl or woman, if she survives the practice, part of that woman has died forever. Women and the culture of womanhood is being trampled upon right across the planet and this practice in particular is the most direct and misogynistic attempt to break a woman, most of the time at the earliest age possible. We are not on this planet to be some kind of servicing and breeding agent, we are here to have and demand an equal and beautiful existence that can ultimately be nothing but fruitful for both sexes and all people.”
Could you explain why you chose to support FORWARD and become a patron?
“I chose to support and become a patron of FORWARD because this organisation has a dedicated and intimate understanding of the complexities of FGM. This practice is as sensitive as it is disturbing. I feel, after spending time in the UK and abroad with its representatives, that FORWARD not only completely understands how terribly intricate discussions on this issue are, but also has a sensible and caring approach to dealing with people on both sides of the knife.
I feel that this intelligent and determined method of dealing with FGM is what we need to eradicate the practice, keeping our young girls and women healthy and safe from this horrible crime.”