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Today is International Women’s Day. A chance to raise awareness of the continued daily struggles faced by women and girls across the globe.

FGM is one of the most brutal and physical manifestations of violence against women, and is recognised by the UN to be concentrated in a band of 30 countries across North and Eastern Africa and the Middle East.

But FGM is an international problem, not just a regional one.

Growing migration is an obvious source for the spread of FGM. But it is a mistake to think that it affects only Muslim women from Africa and the Middle East.

Last year the GUARDIAN reported FGM happened to me in white, midwest America.

Cases such as this show the physicality of FGM is a live issue across cultures and backgrounds.

It also undermines arguments about cultural relativism requiring non-practicing communities to mind their own business.

Nimco Ali has spoken this morning on BBC R4 Women’s Hour to discuss how the involvement of women beyond those who suffer directly has brought momentum to the fight against FGM. She argues FGM is overarchingly a gender-based issue.

The particularities of FGM do vary within each instance. But addressing it with the collective voice of women (and men!) has the strength to break down the boundaries that shouldn’t have power over us, and instead raise up the values that underline our common humanity:

Personal freedom and choice, over our own bodies, is a minimum standard. 

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