Press Release: FGM Zero Tolerance Day UK Must Get Serious

Press Release: FGM Zero Tolerance Day UK Must Get Serious

On International Day of Zero Tolerance to female genital mutilation (FGM), The Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKRWO) are calling for a long-term, comprehensive strategy to tackle FGM in the UK.

FGM is a form of violence against women and girls and a human rights violation. The practice is illegal in the UK and is classified as a form of child abuse, yet in 2007 it was estimated that more than 32,000 girls were at high risk of being subjected to it. Over 66,000 women and girls living in the UK have already undergone FGM.

While FGM has largely been perceived as an African problem, new research has revealed that it is also widespread in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries. In January the first conference on FGM in the Middle East found that FGM is practiced in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

“Until now, action on FGM in the UK has been piecemeal and only focused on African communities,” said Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director of FORWARD.

The UK needs a more holistic approach, with demonstrable commitment on educating social workers, school teachers, doctors and other professionals and engaging affected communities so that we can work together to end FGM. We welcome the recent establishment of an All Party Parliamentary Group on FGM.

FGM is a serious crime under UK law, but we know that the practice is continuing within Middle Eastern and African communities, added Diana Nammi, Director of IKWRO. Greater effort is needed to raise awareness within affected communities of the impact that FGM has on physical and mental health, and to convince parents that FGM is a violation of girls rights which will not be tolerated and should be stopped.

To mark the International day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, FORWARD is launching an online survey on the knowledge, attitudes and experiences of young people living in the UK. IKWRO is also gathering data on to gain better insight and understanding of FGM, by including a question on FGM in our risk assessments with new clients.

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