Addressing domestic violence and sexual abuse with black, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) communities is challenging due to embedded cultural beliefs. BMER girls are vulnerable to culture-specific domestic and sexual violence including FGM, forced marriage and honour-based violence. They face barriers to disclosure and reporting due to cultural norms around family honour. A 2014 prevalence study by Equality Now estimates that 60,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK, while the Home Office estimates that 3,000 girls per year are forced into marriage.
Integrate UK was formed to integrate young people who have arrived in the UK from other countries and cultures into British society. As part of this work, the organisation promotes gender equality through creative projects that raise awareness and provide education about the risks of female genital mutilation (FGM). Formed in 2009, the organisation is led by teenage girls and is based at a secondary school in Bristol. Integrate has educated 2,500 young people about the risks of FGM. The charity delivers sessions for frontline professionals in schools, colleges and universities by producing lesson plans and videos on violence against women and girls and FGM.
Integrate runs projects that help young people develop language-based skills through filmmaking and drama to enable them to find their voice and make positive changes in their lives and communities. In 2011, four young girls affected by FGM developed a radio drama-documentary called WHY? for BBC Radio 4. The documentary achieved widespread acclaim and helped shape Integrate’s award-winning film, Silent Scream. To date, over 50,000 people have watched Integrate’s videos.
The organisation also works with the UK government to provide consultation to ministers and world leaders. Fahma Mohamed, one of the young trustees at Integrate, successfully petitioned the Minister for Education to write to all schools reminding them of their responsibility to safeguard girls from FGM. Since then, the Minister of State at the Home Office, Lynne Featherstone, announced mandatory reporting of FGM in girls up to the age of 18.
Photo: Marcia Chandra/Stars Foundation.