Critics have accused the charity campaign of perpetuating the kinds of PC fears that allow female genital mutilation to exist
Barnardo’s has been roundly criticised on social media for featuring a white girl as part of campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM).
The charity apologised after its Twitter campaign, which was highlighting the prominence on FGM during school holidays, featured a young white girl with the message: "FGM is particularly prevalent during school holidays. Here are some signs a girl may be at risk..."
In response Barnardo’s said FGM affects more than one community, and that the charity wants to reflect that.
The campaign is to advise professionals, including teachers, of the signs a girl may be at risk of undergoing FGM during the summer holidays, which the charity said is often referred to as ‘cutting season’.
However Shy Society, the opinion website which “stands for those without a voice in Britain” called the apology “half-hearted” and said the mistake pointed to something more sinister.
In a blog it stated: “The half-hearted apology also came with a rather disturbing caveat. The statement opened by claiming “FGM doesn’t affect just one community or religion,” in a crass attempt to justify the chosen image.
“Let’s be clear: this is a complete falsity."
The blog then goes on: “Donors have already withdrawn their support over the debacle – in this world where money talks, perhaps being hit in the pocket is the only way they will sit up and listen?”
One Twitter user called Jeremy tweeted: are white girls really having their clitorises hacked off in #Britain ?”
And Andy McGurk posted: “Barnardo’s showing exactly the PC attitudes which allow #FGM exist.”
A Barnardo’s spokesperson said: “No girl should ever have to live with the harmful physical and emotional consequences of female genital mutilation.
“We know FGM is more prevalent in some countries and communities but girls from these and other communities who live in the UK are also at risk and we have a long way to go before the practice ends.
“We work in partnership with different communities in the UK to change attitudes and beliefs about this form of child abuse.
“It’s important people are aware FGM does not affect just one community."
There were 1,236 new cases of female genital mutilation recorded in England between January and March 2017, according to figures published by NHS Digital.