The measures to better protect women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation include:
- £1.6 million 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 for 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 new national programme backed by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association that will create a highly specialised team of skilled social workers with extensive experience of working with those at risk of FGM
To mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, the government is hosting a conference bringing together FGM survivors, health professionals, charities and law enforcement. This conference follows the first global summit on this issue which was hosted by the Prime Minister last year to mobilise domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation within a generation.
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.
The 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 them throughout childhood. There will be new guidance for the NHS, 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 the family’s country of origin.
The new scheme led by Barnardo’s and the LGA will help establish practical community outreach programmes in 10 areas across the country, to shift attitudes and behaviour towards better prevention of FGM. They will include 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.
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.