Government announces new measures to end FGM on the International Day of Zero Tolerance
Women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) must be better protected, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison, Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone and Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson will say today as they announce a number of new measures aimed at bringing an end to the practice in the UK.
To mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the Government will host a conference bringing together FGM survivors, health professionals, charities and law enforcement. This follows the first global summit on this issue which was hosted by the PM last year to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation within a generation.
New measures to be announced at the conference include:
- £1.6 million funding for the next stage of the FGM prevention programme that will improve the NHS response
- A new national system to allow clinicians to note on a child’s health record that they are potentially at risk of FGM
- New mandatory recording requirements from GPs and mental health trusts requiring them to record FGM incidence by October 2015. This follows a requirement already in place for NHS acute trusts.
- Improved training for frontline health workers on how to communicate sensitively with patients about FGM, through new e-learning sessions launched by Health Education England
- £2 million for a brand new national programme backed by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association which will create a highly specialised team of skilled social workers with extensive experience of working with those at risk of FGM
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said:
“FGM devastates the lives of women and girls and we are committed to ending this brutal practice in one generation.
“I am immensely proud of this government’s legacy and continued work to end FGM. The measures announced today will help the NHS fulfil its duty to care for women who have had FGM, protect them and their daughters from further harm and prevent girls from being mutilated.”
Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone said:
“Female Genital Mutilation is a crime and it is child abuse.
“The Coalition Government has made great progress in tackling this harmful practice, and by working closely with campaigners and communities we are beginning to see a real step change.
“The new measures announced today are further evidence of our commitment towards ending FGM.”
Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson, said:
“All women and girls should be able to live their life free from violence, including the abhorrent practice of FGM.
“This innovative prevention programme from Barnado’s and the LGA will play a crucial role in helping to protect potentially vulnerable women and girls in their communities, by bringing together experts who have the right expertise and sensitivity. It will also provide support to victims as well as preventing further crimes by working directly with the community.
“Supporting this work is an important part of the government’s commitment to ending FGM in the UK for good.”
The new health commitments will mean the NHS is better placed to recognise the warning signs of FGM, so health professionals and other services can better target resources and services to areas of highest prevalence.
Health workers will be able to mark potential risk of FGM on a child’s health record to make sure other clinicians can be made aware of the need to protect the girl throughout childhood. There will be new guidance for the NHS on this soon, with the new system starting from September 2015.
Improved reporting on incidence of FGM means that data will now be gathered from acute trusts, mental health trusts and GPs. The Health and Social Care Information Centre will publish figures quarterly, as well as in an annual report. The data collection will be far more comprehensive than that currently collected in just NHS acute trusts, and will include details of the family’s country of origin.
The new scheme led by Barnardo’s and the LGA will also help establish practical community outreach programmes in ten areas across the country, to shift attitudes and behaviour towards better prevention of FGM, including tailored community based workshops to change cultural attitudes and psychological support for survivors. It is being funded through the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme, which backs promising new proposals for providing children’s social care.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said:
“Barnardo’s aims to help the most vulnerable children and young people in the country, and we view the brutal and often hidden practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a severe form of child abuse and violence against girls and young women.
“Our ambition in leading this pioneering programme with the LGA is to transform the way that FGM is tackled. We will work with leading experts and organisations already active in the field of FGM to help build a specialist, joined up service that will identify those at risk. We will also draw together best practice and seek to develop new ways of working, engaging with communities to change attitudes and behaviour around FGM.”
This conference follows on from the Girl Summit in 2014 where the Prime Minister announced:
- £1.4 million FGM Prevention Programme, launched in partnership with NHS England to help care for survivors and safeguard those at risk
- New police guidance from the College of Policing and an inspection programme by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) that will look at how the police handle cases of FGM
- New legislation on proposals to introduce new civil orders designed to protect girls identified as being at risk of FGM –in the Serious Crime Bill
- New legislation that will mean parents can be prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter being cut – in the Serious Crime Bill
- New legislation to grant victims of FGM lifelong anonymity from the time an allegation is made – in the Serious Crime Bill
- A consultation on new mandatory reporting duty for health and education professionals to report FGM
- Extending the law to so that a non-UK national who is ‘habitually resident’ in the UK and commits FGM can now face up to 14 years in prison
- A new specialist FGM service which will include social services, to proactively identify and respond to FGM
- New programmes to prevent child and forced marriage in 12 developing countries
- An International Charter — calling for the eradication of these practices within a generation.
- A commitment from over 350 faith leaders from all the major religions to declarations condemning forced marriage and FGM. They are turning these commitments into action by funding 18 community prevention projects, including a new network of national community champions with the local knowledge and credibility to keep girls safe.