Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a new poster campaign today which urges mothers and carers who suspect a girl in their community is at risk of FGM to call the NSPCC’s dedicated helpline for advice and support.Over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 could be at high risk of FGM in England and Wales each year with nearly 66,000 women having experienced FGM.
Announcing the new campaign, Home Secretary Theresa May said:
FGM is illegal and it is child abuse.
The government is absolutely committed to tackling and preventing this harmful practice in order to safeguard and protect all girls and women who may be at risk. It often results in severe consequences for their physical and mental health and we must do everything we can to eradicate it for good.
This campaign builds on an intense effort underway across government. We understand better than ever before the prevalence and distribution of what is often a hidden crime and we are determined to see perpetrators brought to account in court.
Help for communities
The campaign is specifically aimed at mothers and carers in Somali, Kenyan and Nigerian communities, which have been identified as having a higher than average prevalence of FGM. The posters will be placed on panels in washrooms in 17 London boroughs and seven cities across England and Wales.
The posters will direct mothers and carers to telephone the free, 24-hour NSPCC FGM helpline (0800 028 3550) if they are suspicious a girl they know is at risk of having the procedure. The helpline is available to anyone and people can report their suspicions of FGM anonymously. They can also ask for advice and support if their own child is at risk of FGM. The posters will also be sent to schools, GPs surgeries, police stations and hospitals around the country so they can be displayed in staff areas.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:
We need a complete cultural change on FGM and we are working to support communities to abandon the practice themselves.
Mothers have the power to stop this happening to their daughters and the next generation. Through our new campaign we want them - as well as anyone else who is concerned - to contact the NSPCC FGM helpline if they believe their daughter or a girl they know is at risk.
Political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing and uncovering this terrible form of abuse. The law in this country applies to absolutely everyone.
The campaign will run until August in order to reach communities during the school holidays when most girls are at risk.
NSPCC Head of Child Protection Operations John Cameron said:
FGM is a hidden crime and we need to bring it out into the open if we are to end it.
Encouragingly, we have been contacted by over 200 people since we launched our FGM helpline (0800 028 3550) last year - but we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of children may be vulnerable to this abuse.
This is why we have teamed up with the Home Office on their campaign. We really want to encourage anyone who has a concern to call us - it doesn’t matter if you’re not certain, we’re here to talk things through and offer advice.
By working to together we are sending out a strong message - FGM is child abuse and it needs to stop.
To accompany the posters, mothers will also be reached through online adverts on Facebook and Netmums, which will direct them to the NSPCC website for support and advice.
Support for professionals
Online advertising will target professionals such as doctors, teachers and midwives, reminding them of their role in helping to prevent FGM and their duty to report it. Educational materials, including factsheets on FGM, will be provided by the NSPCC, and on GOV.UK. Messages will reinforce that FGM is child abuse and that it is everyone’s duty to report it.
A free resource which includes a DVD is also available on Gov.uk and the NSPCC’s website, or on request, for members of these communities to discuss the issue among their friends and family. The DVD features survivors of FGM, doctors and Kam Thandi from the NSPCC FGM helpline, discussing the issue and warning mothers and carers of the health dangers of the procedure.
The campaign is being funded through the PROGRESS Programme of the European Union and the Home Office. Watch the YouTube FGM educational films.