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On Friday 4 November, Y13 Highgate pupil Simran joined over 200 members of the UK Youth Parliament to debate topics related to health in the House of Commons.

The sitting was the eleventh session of UK Youth Parliament at Westminster, debating health-related issues as diverse as the cost-of-living crisis and the ongoing effects of climate change.

Simran, who represents the constituency of Brent, gave an impassioned speech about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), arguing that this taboo subject needs better profile and increased training.

20,000 girls living in England have undergone FGM. 450 of these are my constituents under the age of 18 in Brent,” she explained.  “To you they might be victims, but to me they are young girls who have their futures snatched from them. I ask you as the House to come together and help these victims of FGM overcome the stigma and taboo they face on a daily basis.” Her speech can be watched in full here:

Simran explained that she was wearing red “in solidarity with the victims of FGM and this horrific practice“. Reflecting on her experiences at the event, she said: “Standing in the House of Commons, speaking about such a prevalent issue, whilst we have the first British-Asian Prime minister, I felt so incredibly proud that I am part of a diverse youth lead by the emblem of diversity. FGM being a topic very specialised to minority communities is so close to my heart, as the borough I represent is one of the most diverse in the UK. Speaking about this topic truly represented and spoke to my constituents.”

Following her speech in the House of Commons, Simran spoke to BBC News, to highlight the importance of this event in debating the issues that matter to young people.

Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “It’s brilliant to see the House of Commons sitting as part of the UK Youth Parliament, giving young people a forum to discuss issues important to them and have their voices heard.

“As someone who has been interested in politics from an early age, I think it is really important for young people to play an active part in our democracy – our decisions today impact their tomorrow.”