‘I hope you die painfully’: vile abuse aimed at anti-FGM women
Victim of threats: Leyla Hussein has received a stream of sickening emails since presenting The Cruel Cut on Channel 4
Published: 14 November 2013 | Evening Standard
Campaigners against female genital mutilation have been subjected to vile threats and abuse since they took part in a documentary about their fight.
Leyla Hussein and Nimco Ali of the charity Daughters of Eve were bombarded with sickening text messages, emails and tweets within minutes of the The Cruel Cut being broadcast on Channel 4 last week.
One message to the women said: “I hope you die and painfully”, and another survivor of FGM who spoke anonymously on the programme was identified and mocked on the internet.
Friends and family of Ms Hussein, who presented the documentary, have been staying with her since it aired and police have been stationed outside.
Experts called for more to be done to protect women who risk the wrath of their communities by speaking out against the barbaric practice.
Efua Dorkenoo of campaign group Equality Now said: “We have had enough talking. Although the Met police is doing great work in London, brave survivors who speak out against FGM are still at risk and are not being provided with adequate emotional and psychological support.”
Ms Ali, who set up Daughters of Eve with Ms Hussein, said: “Within minutes of The Cruel Cut airing, the almost-constant stream of messages and emails to Daughters of Eve started to turn nasty.
“One message ended with the line: ‘Hope you both die and painfully!’ —meaning me and Leyla. The following morning I learned that one of the brave young women who spoke out was receiving the same type of abusive messages and was being mocked for telling her story. While I am at least somewhat used to the backlash, every time I hear that the same thing is happening to other survivors, it breaks my heart.”
Ms Hussein did not venture outside for five days after the programme and was forced to block countless people on Facebook and Twitter.
But she said she has faced a decade of harassment during which she has had to move house and install panic alarms, so the latest abuse does not faze her. “The police have been great. They have been checking on me non-stop since the film has aired and my family and friends have been staying me.” She has also had more than 600 supportive emails and messages from survivors.
On the programme, Ms Hussein, 32, described how as a girl in Somalia she was held down and had her genitals cut until she blacked out. She also confronted people who support FGM.
Following the broadcast she tweeted: “Making The Cruel Cut I sadly lost those who I thought were my friends but I’ve gained thousands. I’m feeling truly blessed. #solidarity.” Ms Ali said she is concerned for other women considering speaking out and said there needs to be more support for them.
A spokesman for the Met police said that anyone providing information about FGM would be treated sensitively and offered support. He added: “The MPS are ready and able to help and are encouraging people to report those responsible for these horrific crimes and to give information about those who help the administration of such illegal practice.”