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June 2014

Raising Voices with Leyla Hussein

We were delighted to welcome Leyla Hussein – anti-FGM campaigner and survivor, mother, psychotherapist and co-founder of Daughters of Eve, at our PHF funded ‘Raised Voices’ girls group recently, to help our young participants in their understanding of this horrific illegal practice for their new filmmaking project.

Leyla, whose Channel 4 film documentary The Cruel Cut was nominated for a BAFTA at the 2014 awards, led a lively and very inspiring discussion with our girls at their weekly meeting at Jo Richardson Community School. You can read more about the visit in the Barking & Dagenham Post and at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The Cruel Cut can be watched on 4OD.

About FGM: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, and in practising communities by local terms such as ‘tahor’ or ‘sunna’. It is a form of child abuse which can have devastating physical and psychological consequences for girls and women. The World Health Organisation describes it as: “procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO, 2013). Since 1985 it has been a serious criminal offence under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act to perform FGM or to assist a girl to perform FGM on herself. In 2003, the Female Genital Mutilation Act tightened this law to criminalise FGM being carried out on UK citizens overseas. Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. NSPCC, May 2014

Find out about the new Government poster campaign aimed at mothers and carers.

Leyla Hussein at Raised Voices

Leyla Hussein at Raised Voices

Leyla Hussein at Raised Voices Leyla Hussein at Raised Voices

Leyla Hussein talks with Arc’s Raised Voices girls group, led by Education Director, Natalie Smith. Images ©Theresa Snooks for Arc

The first stage of Arc’s Raised Voices female leadership and peer mentoring project is almost complete, and it has been a real pleasure to work together with our young participants from the Borough on our latest journey for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which started last November and runs until 2015.

We have received brilliant support from the local community, with up to 40 committed young women attending our weekly sessions from Years 7 through to Sixth Form in Barking & Dagenham schools and colleges.  Each participant has worked hard with us in creating a thought-provoking, challenging and unique resource that will offer a platform for other young people to raise awareness about the issues we have explored – hard-hitting subjects like domestic and sexual violence, body image and self-harm, child sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation. We are very lucky to have worked with established filmmakers and creative artists along the way, and to have had the benefit of exceptional input from professionals who work in the subject areas, for which we are incredibly grateful.

The next stage of Raised Voices will include a presentation of the short film our group has produced, along with a specially-developed workshop/discussion, which will be touring local schools from July through to September.  In the meantime, we will be celebrating the success of the project at our special launch event on 10 July at Arc’s new home at Kingsley Hall, for a screening of the film, along with the presentation of certificates to our incredible group of highly creative and very passionate young women.  We are delighted that Raised Voices has also been supported by Jack Petchey Foundation Bronze Award funding, and the first well-deserving recipients of Jack Petchey certificates will also be presented on this special evening.

To find out how to reserve your place and for more details, please email Theresa Snooks or call Arc on 020 8595 8509.