A survivor of female genital mutilation today told how she had been attacked in public over her outspoken campaign to confront the barbaric practice in London’s schools.
Hibo Wardere, 46, who fled Somalia’s civil war at the age of 18 having suffered FGM aged six, has made it her life’s work to educate and speak frankly about the brutal surgery which affects 200 million women in 30 countries.
Mrs Wardere, a teaching assistant who visits schools to educate children about the procedure, has written a book about her one-woman fight to wipe out FGM in her lifetime.
The mother-of-seven from Walthamstow told the Standard how after speaking at one local school a child realised she had undergone FGM and confided in a teacher. “It broke my heart into a million pieces,” she said. “It takes real courage to stand up at such a young age and seek help, especially against the wishes of your family.”
But the Somalian’s outspoken approach and refusal to sugar-coat the topic with young children has made her the target of attacks.
She said: “I had a scary confrontation on the 257 bus in Walthamstow. A woman with a full niqab recognised me and ran at me screaming my name and snarling, ‘You came to my child’s school, you told her FGM was abuse.’
“I could only see her eyes but they were full of rage. She was so angry she had to be dragged off the bus, but I was jumping for joy inside because that meant a child had confronted their parent.”
A recent City University London and Equality Now study shows that FGM has been carried out on 137,000 women and girls living in England and Wales but Mrs Wardere believes these figures will sky-rocket once a full NHS survey comes out next year.
She is pressuring the Government for the dangers of FGM to be put on the national curriculum so the UK “can raise an entire generation to protect themselves”. The majority of FGM in the UK takes place in London, with Brent having the highest concentration of any borough, but there is yet to be a single conviction for the practice.
Cut: One Woman’s Fight against FGM in Britain Today comes out on Thursday.