The fact that Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, shot in the face for attending school,is present at the global summit in London today is significant not just for modern feminism, but also all women in the UK.
It’s a reminder of how the laws that ensure the relatively gentle way of life we enjoy here in comparison with other parts of the world, must be preserved. It’s easy to take some of these for granted.
For example, young women today in the UK have not just absorbed the benefits of education for all, but are now powering ahead of boys in class. So much so, disparity between the sexes in schools is a more complex issue than ever before.
Then, with the recent high profile campaigns to promote women in politics, the boardroom and the Church, it’s easy to assume gender issues are well sorted. So much so that there are now forums fighting feminism cropping up such this one.
But are they missing the point? In 1920 it was votes for women, education and equal pay. Today, it’s violent treatment and intimidation of the long-haired sex.
A couple of years ago it would barely have been known, certainly not spoken about openly, and rarely outside medical circles, that something as abhorrent as Female Genital Mutilation was so rampant in the UK. In fact, for many, this `cultural practise’ seemed too shocking to believe; some people found it hard to comprehend it was happening at all, in liberated society, in 2014, in modern Britain.
Imported from parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, FGM involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia apparently as a traditional custom to protect the victim’s femininity.
We now hear it is estimated that up to 170,000 women and girls living in England and Wales could have already undergone this crude operation right under the noses of our authorities.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of cross-party campaigners, the matter is now well and truly out in the open. People are more comfortable about discussing it. Even though it’s been illegal here since 1985, the first prosecutions – which are currently ongoing – were not until this year.
Soon, thanks to David Cameron’s leadership on this up until now brushed-under the carpet issue, parents will face prosecution in this country if they fail to prevent their daughters being cut. We can only hope the new measures, to be announced, will at long last be effective in ending this cruelty against girls.