The government’s commitment to tackling female genital mutilation has been questioned after it abolished the role of FGM co-ordinator.
The post, currently held by Alan Webster, ensures multi-agency efforts are in place to tackle the issue which campaigners estimate affects about 24,000 girls living in the UK. FGM involves cutting part or all of the genitalia, often without anaesthetic.
A Home Office spokesman said the work of the co-ordinator would not be lost, but would be carried forward by individual departments where it will be “better integrated”.
But FGM campaigners say the move – which follows government guidelines issued only last month to help practitioners identify and prevent FGM – fear it will lead to a marginalisation of the issue.
Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, told a national newspaper that while the guidelines had been an important step forward there was no dedicated person now to ensure all organisations were acting on it. “The co-ordinator was a link between all the organisations working in this area and now that’s been lost.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “As part of our cross-government programme to prevent and tackle FGM, we have established a forum to support community engagement work to challenge FGM and have published new guidelines to raise awareness of this issue with all professionals,” the spokesperson said.
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