How crazy is political correctness in Britain? One woman who campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM) decided to find out by seeing if she could get people to sign a petition in support of the violent and illegal ritual.
The results are shocking. All but one person Leyla Hussein approached put their name to her fake petition asking them to “save female circumcision” as a cultural tradition and right.
Hussein, who was subjected to the excruciatingly painful practice when she was seven, was left in tears by the experiment. She says people’s fear of being deemed racist is a major barrier to stopping FGM in Britain.
“We thought no one in their right minds would sign it. I kept saying the word ‘mutilation’ so many times and no one questioned it, except one woman,” Hussein told me in an interview. “After 19 signatures I stopped. I couldn’t do it any more. I broke down in tears. I was in bits.“
Hussein says FGM is child abuse, yet everyone is too afraid to intervene for fear of offending cultural sensibilities.
Her experiment is shown in a TV documentary, The Cruel Cut, which goes out on Britain’s Channel 4 on Wednesday night.
It is the first time so many British women have spoken out about their experiences of FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia.
Some of the women in the film describe how their injuries have left them wetting the bed or unable to have children.
The broadcast comes amid concerted efforts by politicians, prosecutors, police, health workers and campaigners to tackle FGM, which is practised in secret by communities from a swathe of African countries.
BACKLASH: SPAT ON AND PUNCHED
Hussein, a 33-year-old psychotherapist and founder of anti-FGM charity Daughters of Eve, said the purpose of her petition stunt was “to see how crazy political correctness has become in Britain”, especially around FGM.
She tells passers-by in the central English town of Northampton that she has undergone female genital mutilation and wants to protect her cultural traditions. “The reason we practise it is because it keeps us clean, it keeps us pure,” she tells them.