Students formed flash mobs in Islington, north London, to call on the government to introduce compulsory education in schools about female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
The flash mobs took place on 26 and 27 September with students from schools across the boroughs of Hackney and Islington rallied by charity IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation) as part of its #RightToKnow Campaign.
IKWRO has been going into schools across the country and training teachers about the practice of FGM and child marriage, as well as engaging with students on the issue. The aim is to ensure that young people in every school are aware that these practices are illegal, as well as to ensure that they know help is available should it happen to them.
"We're missing out on this really amazing opportunity to reach young people so this campaign is really focusing on getting in schools," said Sara Browne, campaign officer for IKWRO. "The young people we have worked with over the summer have been really passionate and have been saying: 'Yeah, we do want to know about these things and it's ridiculous that we aren't taught about these things that would keep us safe.'"
The students have also been asking people to tweet Nicky Morgan, secretary of state for education, calling on her to make every school safe from FGM, forced marriage and honour-based violence. They now intend to write a letter to Morgan to further push for their demands to be met.
While the Education Select Committee has recommended that PSHE education (personal, social and health education) become compulsory, the #RightToKnow campaigners want to ensure these subjects are covered in there.
Earlier in September, the NHS revealed more than 1,000 cases of FGM had been recorded in England between April and June. Additionally, while the students were participating in the flash mob, another charity called on Ofsted to protect schoolgirls who may be at risk of forced marriage. The calls came from Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of charity Karma Nirvana.
"Education is at the heart of prevention," Sanghera told the Observer. "We would like this abuse to form part of the Ofsted framework as a safeguarding issue. We need inspectors to be trained to identify how schools are safeguarding children at risk of forced marriage."