Deeqo Shire: ‘Take Action to Eradicate all Forms of FGM’
Deeqo Shire has been a member of Integrate UK for several years, working on creative projects, delivering peer education in schools and training front line professionals. She specializes on issues from female genital mutilation (FGM), to radicalisation, gang culture and countering violent extremism. She mentors and supports younger members, and is particularly interested in policy and integration and is passionate about empowering young people to lead change and to fulfill their true potential.
She has represented Integrate at many significant meetings including meetings with former British Prime Minister David Cameron and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. Deeqo has also spoken at the first FGM conference in Edinburgh.
Deeqo has a Masters in Security Studies from University College London, and holds a Bachelors Degree in Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Seele Magazine: What is FGM and why are you so passionate about it?
Deeqo Shire: FGM is an acronym for female genital mutilation, which is the total or partial removal of or harm or injury to the female external genitalia for no medical reason. FGM is a form of child abuse, an abuse of women and girls' rights and it is violence against women and girls. The fundamental reason for FGM is to control a girl's sexuality, to keep her chaste and / or to prepare her for marriage.
I am passionate about ending all forms of FGM because I believe in gender equality and a girl's right to bodily integrity. FGM harms innocent girls lives and in its most severe form, it can be life threatening. I think we should all be passionate about ending all types of violence.
SM: Is FGM practiced by immigrants who move to Britain? If so, how is Integrate UK trying to stop FGM from being practiced in Britain?
DS: It is important to know that FGM is practiced globally and is not just an 'immigrant' issue. FGM was practised in the UK until the 1960s as a treatment for masturbation, epilepsy and hysteria.
Integrate UK's work efforts in terms of ending FGM involves empowering the next generation to take a stand, to be aware of their human rights and to know where to get help should they or one of their siblings or friends be at risk.
We deliver peer education workshops in schools nationally, encourage open discussion and make it clear that FGM is one of many forms of gender based violence and that it should not be seen in isolation. We believe that young people will and can be the agents of change - they can create a better, more equal society and a world in which girls are valued and respected.
SM: Why is empowering people important for communities, cities, and nations? How does it make the world a better place?
DS: It's people who will make the change, and it's young people who will be the catalyst.
I remember teaching a young boy in a class about two weeks ago - we were delivering a workshop around FGM and using Integrate UK's educational resource 'Everybody's Business.' The young boy seemed reluctant to engage at first, as he was not interested in the topic of FGM. However, as I and my colleague started to relate the topic of FGM to other forms of abuse like bullying, child sexual exploitation and domestic violence, he realised that FGM was another form of abuse. By the end of the session he was comfortable discussing the issue and felt so empowered that he wanted to join the charity and to share this information with friends and family.
This is what Integrate UK is about - educating, empowering and providing a safe space for young people to engage in sensitive and important conversations.
SM: This year's International Women's Day theme is "Press for Progress." What does that mean to you? What does "Press for Progress" mean for FGM?
DS: Press for progress means that boys and girls, women and men should join forces, speak out and take action to eradicate all forms of FGM.