International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM – 6th February

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM – a United Nations sponsored annual awareness day that takes place on February 6th each year as part of the UN’s efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM).

In December 2018 Manchester hosted a FGM conference aimed at spreading knowledge to eliminate FGM. Part of the event involved filming the speeches and producing a short video designed for communities at risk and focusing on some of the myths around FGM and signposting to the help available in Manchester.

The Manchester tackling FGM video can be viewed on our Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/McrSafeguarding/status/1093181372540350464 – please share it across your agency.

On this International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the support for eradicating FGM is clear:

The government’s ‘Let’s Protect Our Girls’ campaign has garnered support from healthcare professionals, FGM campaigners, grassroots organisations, community-based media and people from practising communities who have spoken out against FGM, highlighting the lifelong consequences it can cause women.

The campaign sends a powerful message that communities should protect children from this horrific practice, as it is child abuse and is illegal in the UK.

Last Friday February 1st, the UK secured its first guilty verdict for female genital mutilation (FGM). This was a landmark moment, but it also showed us all that we need to do more to protect girls at risk of FGM. As we mark International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we do so knowing some justice has been done for one little girl but this isn’t a moment for celebration, but an awful reminder of how all of us who abhor this practice must do more.

Read more about this case at  www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47094707

What is FGM?
According to figures from the UN, an estimated one in 20 girls and women in the world have undergone some form of FGM,

This BBC article looks at the four different types of FGM  – please be aware this contains some upsetting images – visit the BBC website at  www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-47131052

Find out more and what to do if you have concerns in our FGM resource.

Tackling the abuse of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Managing the safeguarding aspect of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has become a real safeguarding issue of concern in the UK for professionals and local authorities. Data is becoming more prevalent in highlighting the major gaps and deficits that exist. This is despite the implementation of the FGM Act 2003, which was designed to make FGM illegal in the UK, including taking a child abroad to have FGM performed.

All professionals are mandated to report FGM to the police and local authorities need to ensure that all staff are aware of their reporting duty. It is child abuse and local authorities have a legal obligation to safeguard girls from the abuse of FGM.

We need to support professionals to understand FGM laws, and their roles and responsibilities in exercising them. Active measures should also be taken to ensure that staff fully understand the safeguarding aspect of FGM. This must include adequate risk assessment, knowing how to ask the relevant questions and be competent in managing disclosure. Good effective communication as part of partnership working is essential.

Despite the UK having considerable statutory guidance and information about managing FGM,  many professionals still do not understand the culturally sensitive issues associated with it, fear being labelled racist and do not feel confident to talk about FGM.  Education, training and empowerment must be given to staff who manage the risks and safeguarding aspect of FGM.

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