Nimco Ali, a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaigner and co-founder of Daughters of Eve, has alleged that UK Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, asked her whether “girls like you” can still have an orgasm.
Speaking with News Roast, she revealed that she had met with Hunt at his Whitehall offices four years ago to discuss her work.
He reportedly said: “What I really want to know Nimco, is, can girls like you have an orgasm?”
The campaigner explained: “It was his first direct question. My reply was: ‘Well, it depends how good you are Jeremy. Because 80% of the clitoris is actually internal’”.
Ali added: “This man is the Secretary of State for Health but he has no idea about FGM and I don’t think he even reads his briefings.”
Hosts Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein were stunned by Ali’s revelation, and criticised Hunt for his “crude” and “disrespectful” line of questioning.
Ali responded: “I think he is privileged enough to ask those questions.”
Since her original meeting with Hunt in 2013, the UK has taken considerable steps to raise public awareness and education on FGM: the Department of Health recorded its first FGM data last year to improve knowledge of its prevalence, and the NSPCC launched an FGM Helpline in June 2013.
Writing for iNews, Ali pointed out that these changes came as the result of what she called an “odd” meeting with Hunt, and highlighted that he has been instrumental in writing the “Recommendations from the Royal Medical Colleges on identifying, recording and reporting it were taken seriously.
“It is now mandatory to report FGM.”
Ali has also taken to social media to defend Hunt from backlash, tweeting that she and the Secretary of State for Health are “cool for real” and reiterating that the comment was made four years ago.
Ali also requested that Dawn Butler, an MP for Brent, withdraw a letter she sent to Hunt asking for a public apology for the comment.
Female genital mutilation is most commonly carried out in parts of Africa and the Middle East, which attempts to cut, or change female genitalia. It is usually carried out on girls before puberty and can be practiced on infants.
It is illegal in the UK and Ireland: however, the NHS statistics for April 2015 to March 2016, recorded by doctors and nurses, shows there are 5,702 new cases in England, 18 of which were carried out in the UK.
It’s estimated that figures are actually much higher – and that around 170,000 women and girls in the UK have undergone the procedure.
A groundbreaking step in raising public awareness of the brutal procedure came recently thanks to an episode of prime time TV show Call The Midwife, which centered around an FGM survivor. Ali consulted on it and the sensitively handled episode was lauded by the NSPCC for shining a spotlight on the hugely important topic .
If you’re worried a child is at risk of, or has had FGM, call the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550
Images: Courtesy West Midlands Police and BBC