Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation met Heathrow’s Safeguarding and Trafficking Team to hear how they protect girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Today’s visit marked the one year anniversary of the Girl Summit – the first global summit to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end FGM and child and forced marriage within a generation.
Border Force Heathrow’s Safeguarding and Trafficking Network has around 95 officers across all terminals to help safeguard vulnerable passengers from harmful practices including FGM.
The risk of girls being taken abroad for FGM is particularly high during the school summer holidays and the Minister learnt about Operation Limelight, which was set up as a collaboration between the Metropolitan Police and Border Force, and targets inbound and outbound flights to and from ‘countries of prevalence’ for FGM.
All the commitments made at the Girl Summit have now been delivered, ensuring that girls at risk are better protected than ever before. Ministers have today renewed their pledge to end FGM in a generation in a cross-governmental declaration and have outlined the progress that has been made since the Girl Summit.
A consultation on new female genital mutilation (FGM) statutory guidance for frontline professionals, which will include details on mandatory reporting, has also been launched today.
Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said:
Every girl has the right to grow up and make the most of her potential, free from the risk of FGM and child and forced marriage. The UK has taken bold action to meet the commitments made at last year’s Girl Summit and I am proud of what we have achieved.
Things are changing, and more and more courageous women and girls are coming forward. But there is more to be done, and ending FGM and child and forced marriage will not be easy. The work of Border Force’s safeguarding teams is vital in our fight to end FGM.
This government is clear that we will not allow political or cultural sensitivities to get in the way of tackling abuse, whatever form it takes.
The Department for Education announced today that they are updating the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance to include further advice for schools on reporting suspected cases of FGM to the police. This will include references to mandatory reporting of FGM.