A cross European project engaging men on the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) ‘MEN SPEAK OUT’ is launched today. The project is led by GAMS Belgium, with FORWARD in the UK, HIMILO foundation in Netherlands and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp as partners. MEN SPEAK OUT is a project aiming to include men in the prevention of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Europe. MEN SPEAK OUT is co-funded by the European Commission Daphne Programme.
FGM is often seen as a “woman’s issue” and therefore men rarely interfere and so their views on the practice are often unclear. Reasons for the practice of FGM can include increasing men’s sexual pleasure, controlling women’s sexuality, maintaining virginity and ensuring marriageability of girls. As FGM concerns all members of the community, men can, should and MUST, play a key role in ending the practice. Men’s involvement is crucial to accelerate the abandonment of the practice in Europe, and by extension increasingly so in the countries of origin.
Solomon Amare Zewolde, FORWARD Project Researcher for MEN SPEAK OUT notes: “For many years I have been talking to men in my community about the negative effects of FGM on girls and women. I noted that many men did not want to discuss this subject, or kept silent – deciding to only marry women who have undergone FGM thus perpetuating the continuation of the practice. Women have been championing this cause for decades with little or no support from men in the community, I am honoured to join FORWARD and this project to say that ‘It’s My Issue Too’ and should be that of all fathers, husbands, brother and, uncles in communities where FGM continues”.
The project will involve research in all three countries to increase knowledge on men’s role in the perpetuation of the practice. Peer educators will be trained to reach out to other men in their communities, education tools will be disseminated in schools and migrant’s associations, and much more. See the website for more information.
The project website is live today, for more information see: www.menspeakout.eu