FORWARD the lead UK charity working to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM) has called on the UK government to adopt a more comprehensive approach to safeguard girls from this harmful practice. FORWARD’s research estimates that 24,000 girls under 16 years could be at risk of the most severe form of FGM in England and Wales. The warning comes as the Sunday Times Investigation revealed two UK health professionals and an Imam colluding in the illegal practice of FGM. FORWARD is urging the UK government to take stronger action to prosecute and necessary steps to safeguard UK girls this summer.
The undercover investigation revealed that a doctor, a dentist, an alternative medical practitioner and a respected religious leader supported the practice of FGM on girls as young as 10-years-old in the UK. These revelations again demonstrate the need to engage FGM affected communities including men and opinion makers such as religious leaders to be targeted to influence change.
FORWARD’s Executive Director says: “The current patchy approach to tackling FGM is failing to safeguard children at risk. Key professionals do not have the confidence to effectively respond where girls are at risk. Current guidance on FGM has not been accorded statutory status and, as such, does not form part of mainstream training for frontline professionals, such as GPs, health visitors and teachers, who come into contact with women and girls affected by FGM. The UK government must take appropriate measures including developing a comprehensive and national strategy on FGM to demonstrate commitment to protect the rights of all girls at risk of FGM in the UK.
The UK government has a duty to protect existing specialist FGM health and support services for women and girls and improve primary prevention particularly in London where FGM has become a growing concern.”
For Further information please contact Naomi Reid at 0208 960 4000; [email protected]
FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) is an African Diaspora women led charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women. We work in the UK, Europe and Africa to change practices and policies that affect access, dignity and wellbeing. We tackle FGM, child marriage and related rights of girls and young women.