Last week we wrote about cuts to ESOL classes. This week the government announced that it would be getting rid of the Female Genital Mutilation Coordinator. As of tomorrow – 1 April – the only post across all of Whitehall which is dedicated to tackling FGM in the UK will go. Sounds like a bad April Fool’s joke, doesn’t it? But it’s true.
An estimated 24,000 girls in the UK are at risk of female genital mutilation and last month, the government launched new guidelines to protect them. Speaking at the launch event Minister Lynne Featherstone said ‘I have seen first hand the effect this abhorrent crime can have on women and girls. This government is determined to put an end to it’.
Given the government’s latest move, we can’t help but question Lynne Featherstone’s commitment. This latest cut will seriously undermine efforts to stop FGM in the UK. Read more in yesterday’s Guardian article by Rachel Williams.
On a slightly more positive note, the government may be giving in to pressure to protect legal aid for migrant women who experience domestic violence while in the UK. Under changes proposed by the Ministry of Justice, women who come to the UK on a spousal visa but then experience domestic violence and want to leave their relationship will no longer be able to get legal aid to help them apply for leave to remain in the UK in their own right. Last month Rights Of Women led hundreds of women’s organisations including IKWRO in writing to the Ministry of Justice about this.
Speaking at the Lambeth Violence Against Women and Girls Conference today, Rhys Scudamore from the Home Office said that the Home Secretary ‘was aware of this issue and is fighting her corner’. He seemed to be implying that there was a difference of opinion between the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, with Theresa May determined to get her way. It’s a space to watch.
You can stay on top of the developments and take action for legal aid by joining Justice for All.