Cover Your Tracks

Guide to ‘tone’ and ‘language’

FGM is a sensitive subject, so we would encourage contributors to Everybody’s Business to think about making their opinions heard while avoiding harm to the girls, women and communities affected by FGM.

It is essential that we discuss FGM in a way which avoids alienating affected communities, traumatising survivors or feeding into Islamaphobic, racist or anti-immigration sentiments.

Some facts about FGM:

For more information about what FGM is, you can see our fact pages here, but some useful pointers to remember are:

  • Ending FGM is everybody’s business, but the campaign to end the practice is led by survivors and affected communities.
  • FGM happens across different communities, cultures and religions.
  • FGM affects girls and women living in the UK as British citizens and residents.
  • Some individuals and families practice FGM as they believe it is in the best interest of a girl.
  • FGM is a human rights violation, child abuse and a form of violence against women and girls

Language to avoid:

  1. We encourage contributors to refer to FGM as ‘FGM’, rather than ‘cutting’ or ‘circumcision’, especially as the latter may lead to false associations with male circumcision.
  2. Please avoid judgmental terms which may stigmatize communities affected. Instead use fact based terms about the practice itself such as ‘harmful’ and ‘human rights violation’.
  3. Stories which graphically depict the health implications of FGM particularly on children and girls can be traumatising to survivors and therefore posts of this nature should always include a ‘content warning’ (see an example of this here). Personal stories about families choosing to end the practice, which show positive change are preferable.
  4. We prefer the term ‘tradition’ or ‘practice’ over ‘culture’ to describe FGM. This is because the term ‘culture’ may infer criticism upon a community’s entire cultural identity.
  5. Please use the term ‘survivor’ instead of ‘victim’ to describe those affected by FGM. Alternatively, you can say ‘women and girls subjected to FGM’, ‘who have undergone FGM’, ‘affected by FGM’. The term ‘victim’ is associated with negative attributes of weakness and vulnerability that women may not wish to assign to themselves.
  6. Please use the term ‘affected’ rather than ‘practicing’ communities. The term ‘practicing’ community implies that the practice is widespread and accepted, but ‘affected’ recognises the growing anti-FGM movement that is tacking place in communities.

Using photos and other images

  1. Please avoid shocking images that can invoke traumatic memories or alienate affected communities. Tears, razors, blood etc. should not be used.
  2. Please see our training videos for guidance on consent for using photos and getting great images!

The bottom line

Everybody’s Business is a place for young people who are keen to support the campaign to end FGM. We cannot accept posts which endorse FGM, such as those agreeing with the medicalisation of FGM or ‘milder’ forms of FGM, as irrespective of the type of FGM there can still be health implications including mental health implications.