Freedom Society and the House of Commons

The Freedom Society has been set up at UEA, but recently it has become clear that many people do not know who the Freedom Charity are and what they do.

Freedom Charity is an organisation officially founded by Aneeta Prem in 2009, with the aim to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), modern day slavery, forced marriage and breast ironing, through raising awareness and support for those affected and those at risk. The problem faced by Freedom is that many people do not realise how this issue affects them, believing this only happens in third world countries. However, out of the 2 million sufferers worldwide 137,000 of these victims of FGM were in England and Wales, according to a report published by City University London in 2015. It appears this issue is closer to home than we may think. Consequently, Ethan Johnson and Katie Steele created Freedom Society here at UEA. We feel students can play a vital role in raising awareness and the prevention of these issues. In the past seven years 94 percent of Higher education institutes reported an increase in demand for student support services with 61 percent of the institutes reporting an increase of demand by over 25 percent. With this rise of mental health issues and strain on higher education resources charity work offers benefits such as boosting confidence, giving a sense of purpose and making new friends. This uniting cause can help not only victims and potential victims of FGM but can help students themselves.

This is an issue in which members of the Freedom Society’s committee, along with Georgina Sosa, a lecturer in Midwifery in the school of Health Sciences, travelled to the House of Commons to discuss with MPs, including Former head of education MP Nicky Morgan. In this meeting we heard speeches from Norwich school, Skinners Academy and Kings College, as well as haunting tales of FGM that have happened here in the UK. We also discussed the role that MPs can take in helping our cause and raising awareness for the charity by sporting Freedom’s red triangle badge. As a result of this meeting, we witnessed an MP wearing the red triangle badge on the televised Prime Minister’s Question Time on International Women’s day. After the successes of this meeting we hope to achieve so much more here at UEA both for the rest of this academic year and years yet to come.

If you decide you want to join the cause then there a few things which you can do: buy Freedom’s red triangle badge for only £2, join our society for £3 or you could purchase one of Aneeta Prem’s books It’s Not Fair and Cut Flowers.

If you want to learn more then visit Freedom’s website at www.freedomcharity.org.uk.

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Alex Gillingham

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August 2022
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