Social workers to be given extra training on the risks of female genital mutilation

David Cameron and council leaders pledge for tougher laws to eradicate the controversial and illegal cultural practice

David Cameron
David Cameron has pledged tougher laws on FGM (Mikael Buck/Rex)

Social workers will join teachers and doctors in receiving extra training to identify and help girls who might be at risk of becoming victims of female genital mutilation.

Speaking at today’s Girl Summit 2014, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced the training, along with a package of measures to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM).

The measures are part of a wider action plan to tackle the cultural practice (see box), which has been illegal in the UK since 1985 and has seen 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales be mutilated.

Prime minister David Cameron and local government leaders have pledged for tougher laws that would see parents prosecuted for failing to prevent their daughters from being cut. Anyone practicing, promoting or encouraging FGM would also face prosecution.

Cllr Ann Lucas, chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “FGM is a horrific form of abuse and councils see first-hand the devastating impact it has on its victims’ mental and physical wellbeing.”

“Female genital mutilation will only be eradicated in the long-term by changing practice and custom in communities where it happens and this requires working with and empowering members of these communities to change their views towards FGM.”

Peter Watt, NSPCC director of national services, said: “The fact thousands of women and girls in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM is terrifying, but not a shock.

“Women and girls across the UK are having to deal with the serious physical and mental effects of FGM alone. By providing better post trauma care and support we can help them and their communities to recognise that FGM is child abuse and it must stop.”

Female Genital Mutilation: The Facts

FGM is defined by the World Health Organisation as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” and is also described as having “no medical benefit”.

Mutilations of this kind are most commonly carried out within UK migrant communities where the practice is culturally and socially acceptable.

Despite FGM being illegal in the UK since 1985, the first prosecutions against those who carry out the crimes weren’t brought until earlier this year.

Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility, complications in childbirth and increased risk of death for newborns and many others.

Dr Comfort Momoh MBE, writing for Community Care Inform, said: “Culturally, it is important to note that practising communities strongly believe that FGM is a good thing. They do not see it as an abuse or as a safeguarding issue; rather they see it as an act of love, a rite of passage and preparing their daughters for marriageability.”

Read Dr Comfort Momoh’s full FGM guide for social workers.

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One Response to Social workers to be given extra training on the risks of female genital mutilation

  1. Jazz July 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Female genital mutilation (FGM) is abhorrent. My experience is that LAs who have traditionally had sound joint child protection training with the police (historically for social workers after 2years post-qualification which was a sound practice) enabling them to undertake Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews, included FGM in the two week course. Thorough training and joint working with the police, also sound multi-agency working, needs to be promoted in all areas of the UK. More action, less bureaucracy is bound to equal better practice.