PRESS RELEASE 28 March 2011
FGM – government cuts reveal lack of commitment
Government FGM Coordinator post to go weeks after government publishes FGM guidelines
Charities working to prevent female genital mutilation within the UK’s African and Middle Eastern communities today criticised the government’s decision to cut the only post across all of Whitehall which is dedicated to tackling FGM in the UK.
The cross government FGM Coordinator has played an important role in increasing government action on FGM in the UK. Last month the government released new guidelines, written by the Coordinator, which are designed to enable professionals such as police, social workers and GPs to protect girls and women at risk of FGM and to provide support to those who have undergone it.
Women’s organisations argue that the loss of the coordinator post will stunt efforts to stem the practice of FGM and reflects a wider lack of commitment to tackling it.
“The new guidelines were an important step forward but efforts are now needed to ensure that the guidelines are actually read and acted on. The government should also be working to change attitudes towards FGM within communities. Without a government lead who will drive efforts forward, it’s hard to see how this will happen.”
Diana Nammi, Director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.
“The government has failed to commit in terms of targets, financial resources and a strong strategic direction on FGM. This is made worse by their failure to ensure effective coordination of the only government action on FGM which is the implementation of the multi-agency guidelines on FGM.”
Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director of FORWARD.
Notes to editors:
The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing FGM as well as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour’ based violence. As well as supporting women directly, we offer advice and training to professionals and campaign for better laws and policies to protect women and girls from violence.
FORWARD (Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development) is an African Diaspora charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women. FORWARD works in the UK, Europe and Africa to help change practices and policies that affect access, dignity and wellbeing. They tackle FGM, child marriage and related rights of girls and young women.
On 24 February 2011 the government released the first Multi agency guidelines to help frontline professionals identify and prevent FGM. The accompanying press release can be found here.
In the UK, it is estimated that up to 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM. The FGM Act 2003 makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK or to take girls who are British nationals or residents abroad. It also makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad and imposes a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
Some useful information about FGM is available here.