International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation; FORWARD call for Mandatory Training for all UK Health Professionals and Frontline Staff
The UK government has in the last year started to implement a number of policy measures aimed at improved responses to FGM nationally.
This day is particularly significant in the light of this week’s acquittal of a UK Docto3r in the first ever FGM prosecution since the law was instituted 30 years ago.
The evidence that led to this acquittal validates FORWARD’ repeated calls for mandatory and sustained training on FGM for all key health professionals and frontline staff who have safeguarding and care responsibilities. This case demonstrates the negative impact of the lack of adequate FGM training both in the curricula of medical schools and during residency training.
Naana Otoo-Oyortey, FORWARD’s Executive Director commented: “What is clear from this case is the urgent need for standardised, continuous and mandatory training on FGM for all health and statutory professionals. This training should form part of an integrated policy framework along the lines of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention* that the UK government has signed. This should equip professionals with skills and confidence to respond effectively to the special needs of affected girls and women. Ending FGM in the UK should not only be about prosecution but also about prevention and protection.”
In recognition of the 2015 International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM FORWARD calls for:
1) Urgent coordinated and standardised training for health and other statutory professionals to ensure girls are protected from the health and human rights violations caused by FGM.
2) A gold standard to be agreed by the medical profession on how they handle cases of women giving birth who have suffered FGM (specifically Type 3)
3) Integrated national framework for tackling FGM which is based on protection, prevention provisioning of integrated care and if all fails prosecution.
*The Istanbul Convention is the first treaty to recognise that FGM exists in Europe and that it needs to be systematically addressed. It calls for the provision of specialist support services and legal protection orders for women and girls at risk. The UK has signed but not ratified the treaty, if they ratify they would be required to provide services such as counselling, legal aid, shelters and medical services. Also women and girls fleeing their countries from FGM or forced marriage would be able to seek international protection under a better developed asylum system, which is currently lacking in the UK.