28 Too Many is a UK registered charity working to end the harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 28 African countries where it is practised and in other countries across the world where members of those communities have migrated. Founded in 2010 by Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, 28 Too Many aims to provide a strategic framework, knowledge and resources to enable in-country anti-FGM campaigners and organisations to make a sustainable change to end FGM. The charity is building an information base, which includes detailed Country Profiles for each country practising FGM in Africa. They are also working to develop networks of anti-FGM organisations to share knowledge and skills as well as campaigning locally and internationally to end FGM.
Ann-Marie first came across FGM whilst working in a refugee camp in Sudan in 2005 and recalls how it changed her life. “I grew up in Buckinghamshire, UK and worked in the corporate world for about 12 years before setting up my own business. I always wanted to help others and felt compelled to act after learning about the Romanian Children Crisis. I volunteered in Indo-China and then worked for Medair for four years in the field.
“While working in Sudan, I met a 10-year-old orphan girl, who had experienced FGM. She had been raped and was now pregnant. Because of FGM, she was left with obstructed labour – the baby would not come out. She survived, after a caesarean at the medical relief clinic where I volunteered, but that experience deeply affected me. I noticed there was a lack of coverage on FGM and the sector seemed very under-developed. Even in the medical professions and humanitarian relief NGOs many people did not know about FGM. So I knew something had to be done.
“I spent six years studying and volunteering in fourteen countries with a view to launch 28 Too Many as an anti-FGM initiative working across 28 countries in Africa and the diaspora. I saw the importance of connecting the different groups working on the ground to share knowledge and best practice. By working together I believe we can have a bigger impact both nationally and regionally.”
10 years on from that fateful trip to Sudan, Ann-Marie remains committed to her work against FGM, “My vision is that if we protect girls now from being cut, they will grow into mothers who protect their daughters from FGM and then grandmothers who have uncut granddaughters. This is how we break the cycle and we can be the generation that ends FGM.”
The team at 28 Too Many produce research on FGM which provides a platform from which they educate and inspire everyone who needs to be engaged in the movement to end FGM. On Tuesday 8th March, International Women’s Day, 28 Too Many publish a new report ‘A modern snake oil? The dangerous trend of medicalised female genital mutilation’ which investigates the growing involvement of health professionals in FGM and highlights how this is undermining global efforts to end the practice. This important new report will be available via the 28 Too Many website.
“FGM is not someone else’s problem. It is estimated that globally more than 200 million women and girls are living with the consequences of FGM and a further 3 million girls are at risk each year. That’s one girl every 10 seconds,” explains Ann-Marie. “FGM has devastating and life-long physical, psychological and sexual effects on girls and women. It is an extreme form of gender based violence, usually carried out on girls under the age of 14 and we should all have zero tolerance for this practice.”
You can support 28 Too Many and the campaign to end FGM at http://28toomany.org/about-us/donate/