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Young African men raised in London 'now oppose FGM'

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Young men who have been brought up in London strongly oppose female genital mutilation even if their ethnic communities still practise it, a new study says.

Researchers tracking the changing attitudes found that young men from countries where the practice is widespread who now live in Britain actively seek a wife who has not been “cut”.

But some older women immigrants continue to support the practice, believing it is important for the marriage prospects of girls.

Researchers interviewed UK  residents originally from countries where FGM is carried out, in 2010 and again this year, to find out if their views about it had changed.

The survey, carried out by a group of charities that form the FGM Special Initiative, also found victims of FGM in London receive the best medical care, and that increasing numbers of people know FGM is against the law here.

Many grandmothers continue to  support FGM but have less influence on households, and religious leaders have helped to convince some older men that FGM should be stamped out.

Hekate Papadaki from the Rosa  campaign group, said: “We are seeing positive change in communities and this is tangible proof that culturally sensitive, community-focused work can help end FGM in this country. However, we are dealing with deeply ingrained cultural norms and there is a long road ahead of us.”

The report questioned people who have moved to the UK from countries including Somalia, Sudan and Egypt where FGM is widespread. It found that some young men born in this country do not know about FGM, which can involve slicing off a girl’s clitoris and sewing her vagina shut to supposedly keep her pure for marriage.

But when the men are told about FGM they strongly oppose it, the report said. It added: “Several examples were also given of older men expressing guilt at having condoned or tolerated it within their families.” Mosques in London are helping change attitudes significantly by telling people that FGM is not  advocated in the Koran.

NHS staff in the capital were praised in the report for treating women who suffer FGM “with greater care and  sensitivity”.  The survey also says older women in some communities still object to FGM being discussed.

The London-based Ocean Somali Community Association told researchers: “Those who speak out are stigmatised and accused of being brainwashed, and sometimes even attacked in public.”

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