Haggis, hags and FGM

Today I tossed mushrooms, courgettes and slices of ginger into a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of Soy sauce. To those yummies I added a slice or two of Hall’s haggis. I love haggis.

In a couple of hours I shall ignore the rain and get along to the local community mosque to taste some Ile de Reunion fare made by Sara who runs the tea club for women. She trundles her trolley transporting casserole dishes full of cooked beans and spices along Leyton streets come hell or high water. Hers is a labour of love for the mosque. Some women I know bake cakes and fry chicken legs for the church. It’s a tradition.

I would like to imagine that after dinner there I would open up a debate about FGM. Sara’s tea club is open to all women but actually the regular attendees are grandmas swathed in black cloaks and hijabs. I’ll be lucky to get past pleasantries because that’s all the conversation is always. I fear that it will be men who do the majority of debating about female circumcision whether in Parliament or in mosque. Women may lose a great opportunity to come together and eradicate the nastiness. Nothing’s happened in the last 44 years or so since “Spare Rib” and other daring magazines and voices gave us graphic details about what goes on on our doorsteps.

My friend whilst living in the tropics in the early 1970s had to be on the alert all the time in case her mother-in-law snatched her daughter and baptised her before cutting her. Yikes. In my own neighbourhood, I don’t even know whether old women in hijabs and others in stockinged feet wear bras under their dress let alone dare to ask if they’re missing clits. Imagine. I remember my mother wearing all-body corsets. It was a tale that if a woman didn’t hook on that salmon pink constrictor then their backs would give way. I used to giggle when my auntie would say after a shopping chore “Ooh! Can’t wait to undo mi corsets”. Rise up women and see what you’re doing to your bodies and those of the next generation.

.Alice petch

There was a debate on the telly a decade ago when some Ghanaian women nodded in agreement to FGM saying that it was for belonging and identity and as for being a woman in the tribe it was the one thing that gave them self-esteem. Is that why we’re not moving forward on never mind the debate but the prevention? As for the cut being performed in London and UK, well the law is being flouted. From the person who pays the ‘midwife’s air fare to the man who gives out his front parlour for the women’s business we shall say they are criminals.

Back-street abortion was rife. It is always preventable. In the UK it must surely be done and dusted by now. What is done to girls and women for all manner of reasons to do with subjugation is widespread. FGM, child-marriage, breast-ironing, house-maiding, forced virginity tests, forced abortions can be stopped. It seems FGM becomes hot topic around International Women’s Day. Even then Zumba, Tai Chi, Reiki, knitting, massage and pampering cloud what’s really needed in terms of recognising one’s worth as a woman in case your mother never told you. The point is to find out who’s controlling the nasty stuff and who’s making a profit from it. If the force were there then women could be the people to stop the abusive and criminal acts if they are not the ones dictating them. Who tells a poor mother in India to get her baby daughter’s leg injected with bleach? Do you know that crime? A poor parent will deform her child so that the girl becomes a life-long street beggar.

neech in RAGWORKS 2012While we’re on female treachery (the Ile de Reunion curry can wait) there’s the early twentieth century UK practice of mothers of the bride having their daughter’s teeth knocked out at the dentist’s or aka dentist so that she’d never be a dental liability to her future husband. Not as bad as FGM though.


When I first learnt about FGM in books about African women it was called clitoridectomy in a decade when the clitoris was as unknown as package holidays. Good we just say FGM now. Just the language change makes for better chat about the whole caboodle.

Well must go munch with the ‘sisters’ then get around to doing the home-kit bowel cancer test. Life eh!


Banner exhibition


If you are a resident of Walthamstow Village, did you know there’s a tea dance happening for you at The Welcome Centre on Saturday 16th April?
During the week of International Women’s Day subscribers to the free service Up Your Street5  took part in making a banner (sewing and machining) highlighting the plight of women immigrants in the London sweat factories back in the day. The banner is hanging in Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road.

Congrats Up Your Streeters and thanks to our tutor Anjum

Fat Tuesday, eh?

Current TV does International Women’s Day: “Target Women” and “Real Women On Top” checking out the silly adverts. Bit of eddicashun….

Yesterday I went down to Brick Lane to pay homage to International Women’s Day. There was I expecting the crowds, the buzz, the excitement, the renewed bonding through education, diversity and ye olde equality. Just me then? I re-visited the sewing machine of my youth, broke some needles, and walked to Liverpool Street to get down to Stratford for the last FREE tea dance. Mary Patel does us proud.

Made my pancakes today, Fat Tuesday: Check out my story on www.whatsinwapping.co.uk and off to see how unfolds Hackney’s International Women’s Day celebration of which I am a part. Purple and green ribbons pinned!