The UK’s largest children’s charity Barnardo’s caused controversy this week while attempting to raise awareness of the barbaric act of female genital mutilation (FGM).
For those who missed the tweet, Barnardo’s posted out to their 176,000 followers: “FGM is particularly prevalent during school holidays. Here are some signs a girl may be at risk” Nothing wrong with that, right? No, the problem came when they accompanied the tweet with the image of a white girl in Western clothing (pictured).
Anyone who understands anything about FGM knows your typical victim of this type of child abuse is certainly not a white Western girl.
Now the charitable part of us knows that this was a single tweet and everybody makes mistakes from time to time. Barnardo’s have done, and will no doubt continue to do, some life-changing work with some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
But this has a far more sinister undercurrent which needs talking about. Yes, the charity was quick to acknowledge the stream of criticism which rightly came its way. “We’re sorry for any upset caused. We value constructive and robust feedback,” they were quick to clarify.
If that really is the case, Barnado’s must answer why such a fundamental error was made on what was effectively a PR and awareness raising campaign which, in all likelihood, was planned in their diaries weeks if not months in advance?
However the half-hearted apology also came with a rather disturbing caveat. The statement opened by claiming “FGM doesn’t affect just one community or religion,” in a crass attempt to justify the chosen image. Let’s be clear: this is a complete falsity.
Given that Javed Khan, as a British Pakistani, became Barnardo’s first non-white CEO when he took up the role – surely the charity should be more aware than most about the origins of this depraved practice? Why do we say that? We say that because FGM is predominantly an issue in Africa and the Middle East – overwhelmingly Muslim countries.
You don’t even have to look hard to find official confirmation either. On the NHS’ own website it states that “communities at particular risk of FGM in the UK originate from Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Kenya and Sudan” among others.
But who are we kidding? Of course Barnardo’s were aware of the cultural and religious influences behind FGM. They even stated in the article that one of the indications a child is at risk is when a parent might “mention they are going to a country with a high prevalence of FGM.” But, unsurprisingly yet bizarrely, they fail to go on to list any of the countries to which they refer. Expect people to guess do we, Barnardo’s? Or is this just part of your strategy to appear like you are tackling a serious issue whilst actually skirting around the cold hard truths?
Rather than simply making an innocent mistake, the evidence all points to this charity actively distorting the reality of female genital mutilation in a perverted desire to remain politically correct. The reason this is so chillingly sinister is because it’s precisely this attitude which has infected police services, councils and social services across the country – in places like Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford – as predominantly Muslim grooming gangs targeted young vulnerable white girls in the full knowledge the authorities were too cowardly to act.
It was far easier to depict a white girl in Western clothing, despite it having little to no relevance to the issue being debated, than a Muslim child in Islamic clothing.
FGM is truly abhorrent and affects mainly innocent Muslim children and young girls. It is a criminal offence for a reason – because it leaves victims physically and mentally traumatised and can sometimes lead to fatalities. So how can we trust the UK’s largest children’s charity to truly act in the best interests of these victims when they won’t even tackle the elephant in the room? It is bare-faced apologist decisions like this incident that inadvertently facilitates further acts of abuse; ensuring the grand total of UK FGM prosecutions embarrassingly remains at zero. Donors have already withdrawn their support over the debacle – in this world where money talks, perhaps being hit in the pocket is the only way they will sit up and listen?
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain