Councillor Naima Ali

Southwark Appoints First Anti-FGM Ambassador

The first ambassador against female genital mutilation was appointed in Southwark on 6 February, the international day of zero tolerance for FGM.

A survivor of female genital mutilation, Councillor Naima Ali is a lifelong activist whose work in spreading awareness and preventing FGM began when she immigrated to the UK from Somalia in 1997. 

FGM, sometimes known as female circumcision, is a procedure in which the female genitals are cut for cultural reasons and is a prominent practice in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

Ali said: “My first goal is to normalise the conversation of FGM, where we encourage it and the community can talk openly.

“I want to break the silence and make sure the survivors don’t see themselves as criminals of crime which they haven’t committed.”

Ali became a Southwark Labour councillor in 2022 and was elected Deputy Mayor of Southwark in 2023. 

FGM is typically conducted on young girls ranging from infancy to early teens, and is illegal in the UK since the passing of the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985.

Similarly, The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 prohibits individuals from taking UK nationals abroad to undergo FGM procedures.

The World Health Organisation reported that more than 200 million women and girls internationally are survivors of FGM, and a council report from April 2023 found that women and girls 15 years and older in Southwark are eight times more likely to have undergone FGM than elsewhere in England. 

As an ambassador against FGM in Southwark, Ali wants to localise her efforts to educate people about the impact of FGM. 

Her work adds to the UN’s global campaign to end FGM by 2030, as it is recognised as a violation of human rights. 

Ali’s previous work includes acting as a Health Advocate for the NHS, working with schools and charities to spread awareness of FGM, and helping those with drug and alcohol misuse issues. 

Ali wants to not only work with local organisations in her mission to end FGM, but she also wants to establish a place where survivors can receive special services, as she noted the only nearby National FGM Support Clinics are in Croydon. 

As Ali asserts there is a prominent connection between FGM and domestic violence, she is focused on fighting for the rights of all women, girls, and families. 

She added: “I don’t want any child to be failed by us or the system.” 

Ali is confident she can make positive changes in her community and mentioned she hopes to eventually become Mayor of Southwark. 

She said: “As a mother who has a daughter and as someone who has worked in this field, it will be very powerful now that I have started talking about it.

“This is something I can’t do alone, we all need to do better.”

Featured picture credit: Southwark Council

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles