FGM Awareness

Female Genital Mutilation has come to the forefront of media attention this summer, with the government allocating a quarter of a million pounds of funding towards the eradication of the practice earlier this year. and readers of the Journal have probably noticed an increasing focus on this issue. Last week Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, as part of an interview with the House magazine, outlined proposals to detain girls at risk of being removed from the UK for the purpose of FGM being performed. These measures are similar to those outlined previously in the 2007 Forced Marriage Act.

As part of the push against the practice of FGM in the UK, the UK Border Agency is being supported by officers with specialist child protection training, who are attempting to identify those at risk on both exiting and entering the UK. This year, whilst the team has been deployed at Gatwick, 30 cases have been identified compared with none previously.

In support of the move, the UK Muslim Council issued a statement earlier this year condemning the practice as being against the principles of Islam, an important move considering that religious reasons are often cited as being part of the rationale of continuing the practice. Meanwhile in Kenya, there seems to have been some progress at reducing the incidence of the practice with several cases coming to court prosecuting those who perform FGM, with increased sentencing against fatalities.

At the moment, there are UK Government interim guidelines for professionals with regard to FGM which were issued in July of this year and due to be updated in November. Readers may also be interested in the work of the Orchid Project, a charity in the UK dedicated to assisting the eradication of the practice.

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