THE FIGHT AGAINST FGM THROUGH COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION Edited by Pa Modou Faal

Welcome to ‘The Kind Link’ series. We will be exploring the challenges, motivations, and goals of charities with consideration to the Covid-19 situation. Non-profits organisations are a key part of our societies as they are the link between those who want to help and those who need help.

Mojatu was founded in response to the local BAME communities living and working around Nottingham. One of the major areas of the charity is the campaign against FGM, which stands for female genital mutilation. The foundation is a means to spread messages to support the elimination of FGM across the UK and around the world. Mojatu works in other areas of health promotion awareness besides FGM such as diabetes, blood donation, mental health awareness trainings and campaigns among other relevant medical information.

 Through community journalism and other media techniques, Mojatu has been very consistent in organising tailored media training programmes for victims of FGM, Gender-Based Abuses against women and girls and for people with mental health issues. In order to challenge some of the negative stereotypes against migrant groups in the mainstream media, Mojatu recognises the need to train people to tell their own stories through their own voices. The organization works with BAME communities through community engagement and empowerment, help migrant communities and organizations to get funding so as to provide support for their own communities and awareness raising through community events and cultural activities.

FGM is an issue that is not widely talked about or publicly known in the UK. Often times, people in the UK think it is an issue that does not happen locally, rather only in Africa and Asia and that it is a religious or cultural activity; however, that is not the case. FGM happens in many countries, including the UK. In 2018 alone, there had been about 80 registered cases of FGM in Nottingham meaning that 80 girls and women became victims of this violent act without their consent. FGM is recognized as a crime and punishable by the law in the UK but according to Laura McCartan of Mojatu Foundation, there had only been one successful case against the practice of FGM in the UK. Evidently, there are legal implication against this crime, but perhaps a better understanding of the issue is what is missing. People are afraid to call it out, as they think it might be culturally insensitive, however, Mojatu simply labels is as a girlchild and female abuse

Mojatu works with local authorities to help them identify signs of FGM crimes. Nottingham City Council has been supportive of the organization’s work. This allows the community to work together in identifying the people at risk. The charity works with the people at risk of this crime and those affected by it. There is a team at Mojatu that runs counselling sessions, support groups and one-to-one support sessions (online during COVID-19). FGM can be a lifelong issue, that is why Mojatu offers long-term support to victims through counselling, advocacy strategies and training for rehabilitation, mentoring and coaching. During the lockdown stages and other government related restrictions on public gatherings, Mojatu resorted to online services to provide training for volunteers and others from the public in different areas such as FGM, mental health, media techniques on audio[1]visual productions, radio programme presentation as well as community conversation targeting the BAME community.

In order to adapt to the community needs due to COVID-19, Mojatu has been very generation throughout the pandemic. Since the early stage of the pandemic, the organisation provided warm meals every weekend for the Muslim community during the Holy month of Ramadan as a way of support and partnership and continues to organise weekly food bank which benefits over a hundred families across Nottingham. The work of the charity has changed many lives and continues to do so in many different ways. Mojatu Foundation has become a household name in the Nottingham community for the important work and generous acts it has been doing and continues to do during the hardest moments of the COVID-19 crisis.

As part of the community, Mojatu targets all groups within the BAME community and informs them of the crimes happening to girls and women within their own communities. It is encouraging that local councils and authorities have taken notice of the practice of FGM and are working with Mojatu to help identify people who suffer or might potentially suffer from FGM. As a community, we should all be a part of preventing this from happening and as well as raising awareness of key issues affecting us as a whole. We should all work together to Stop FGM and Violence Against Women. shorturl.at/aevG5