Webinar – Public Policy Update – Protecting Women and Girls in the UK from Female Genital Mutilation:Taking Action to Tackle a Global Problem at Home and Abroad

Date of Event: Thursday, August 18th 2022

Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:20 PM

Place of Event: Webinar

Key Speakers:

  • Nusrat Ghani MP, Member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security
  • Ibrahim Ismail & Hodan Osman, Development Manager & Project Co-ordinator at Bolton Solidarity Community Association
  • Dr Deborah Hodes, Consultant Community Paediatrician at University College London Hospitals
  • Kate Agha, CEO and Co-Founder of Oxford Against Cutting
  • Lynne Townley, Barrister, BPTC Lecturer and PhD Candidate on Honour crime and familial codes of honour at City, University London
  • Nimco Ali OBE, CEO of The Five Foundation
  • Afrah Qassim, Founder and CEO of Savera UK

Approximately 60,000 girls aged 0 to 14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), according to a 2015 City University study with many of these girls being at risk themselves of FGM. Approximately 103,000 women aged 15 to 49 and approximately 24,000 women aged 50 and over who have migrated to England and Wales are survivors of FGM. In addition, some 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM. The number of cases of Honour Based Abuse (HBA), Forced Marriage (FM) and FGM reported to the police in the UK has increased by 53% between 2014 and 2017 (IKWRO 2017). UNICEF has estimated that in 2020 there were 200 million women and girls who had undergone FGM around the world and the rates are only increasing. In the UK, there are also concerns that parents are inflicting FGM on children at an earlier age to avoid detection (Bentham, 2014). The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the dire situation regarding FGM all over the world, with victims’ access to help becoming even more complicated due to lockdown measures.

FGM is illegal in the UK, under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (the 2003 Act) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland. It is also an offence for a UK national or resident to perform FGM abroad, assist a girl to carry out FGM on herself outside the UK, or assist a non-UK person to carry out FGM outside the UK on a UK national or resident. The 2003 Act also provides for FGM Protection Orders to protect and safeguard victims and potential victims of FGM. The Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the 2003 Act to provide for statutory guidance on FGM in order to increase awareness of FGM, increase referrals and reports to the police, and improve the protection afforded to victims and survivors of FGM. The guidance was last updated in 2019.

A 2014 Commons Home Affairs Committee Report on FGM criticised the “failure to respond adequately to the growing prevalence of FGM in the UK over recent years” which “has likely resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care” and called on the government to “implement a comprehensive and fully-resourced national action plan for tackling FGM”, but this has not since been forthcoming from the government. The Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) was a Private Members Bill tabled in 2017, designed to improve the ability of courts to act quickly to protect children at risk of FGM. The Bill was denied a second reading, however, due to the objection from Sir Christopher Chope MP. The government pledged to bring the Bill back in government time but has not since acted.

This seminar aims to bring stakeholders together to examine what more can be done to urgently address this evolving and serious issue, including what all stakeholders can collctively do to tackle FGM in the UK and abroad.

Programme

  • Further understand the nature and prevalence of FGM, including since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
  • Develop methods to strengthen awareness and inform victims of their legal rights
  • Inform stakeholders on creating a balance between addressing issues of cultural sensitivity and taking a zero-tolerance approach to illegal practices
  • Share evidence-based best practice on what works to protect victims of FGM and prosecute perpetrators
  • Determine how to ensure effective first responses to instances of FGM, ensuring consistent approaches to risk assessment
  • Build strong partnerships with other key workers and stakeholders to enforce preventative measures
  • Educate the public to ensure victims are identified and are afforded help at the earliest opportunity
  • Assess what more the UK government can do to clamp down on FGM and support and protect victims and potential victims

To register for the briefing, please click here.

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