There are some issues which regardless of what political persuasion you are transcend party politics. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one such issue, for which there is a cross party consensus.
New measures have been announced which will end the practice of FGM “once and for all”.
The new rules and guidance provide much action and investment into this terrible crime and were announced as a new study revealed the numbers of women living in England and Wales with the effects of FGM are twice as high as previously estimated.
The report, by Equality Now and City University, found that more than 137,000 girls and women in England and Wales are victims of FGM. Although it has been illegal to carry out FGM in the UK since 1985, the research found approximately 103,000 migrant women aged 15 to 49, 10,000 girls under 15 and about 24,000 women aged 50 or above are victims of FGM.
The new measures announced today will make it the parents’ responsibility to protect their daughters from FGM. If they fail to do so they will be punished. In addition there will be a £1.4mn investment into preventative measures under the ‘prevent programme’ which will both help to stop the practice been carried out on girls but also support and care for victims.
Training will also be given to health and social workers, police and teachers who will be taught to identify those who are a potential risk of being subjected to this most brutal form of abuse.
And a new Border Force child protection unit has been set up which will work alongside the police to target specific flights into and out of the UK in an attempt to identify and prevent young girls being taken out of the country for this purpose.
This is an important step that will go a significant way to stopping this terrible crime. We must also continue to support victims in this country alongside the urgent preventative work which is now being undertaken.
Efua Dorkenoo of Equality Now told the Guardian professionals needed clear guidance to identify at-risk girls but also that action was urgently required: “The government needs to get a handle over this extreme abuse of the most vulnerable girls in our society by implementing a robust national plan to address the issue,” she said.
“There is no time to waste on platitudes as thousands of girls living in England and Wales are having their life blighted by this damaging practice.”