Bishop of St Albans asks Government about action on tackling FGM

On 6th January 2015 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received written answers to five questions of Government on female genital mutilation (or FGM):

Female Genital Mutilation

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they are resourcing the provision of training and education in communities in the United Kingdom in which female genital mutilation is practised.[HL3454]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): Long-term and systematic eradication of female genital mutilation in the UK will require practising communities to abandon the practice themselves. To keep girls safe we need to work directly with local people who know what will work in their areas.

Faith has an important role to play. At the Girl Summit we launched declarations for faith leaders to sign against female genital mutilation and forced marriage. These have now been signed by over 350 leaders from all major faiths. These declarations make it clear that no religion condones the practice.

The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Government Equalities Office have also committed £270,000 to community projects to prevent female genital mutilation and other forms of so-called honour based violence. We recently announced the projects that successfully secured this funding. We will fund 17 community projects which include three organisations that will set up networks of community champions against female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Many of these projects will work with young people. Brave young women and men have been at the forefront of campaigning against female genital mutilation and their courage and determination inspire us all to do more. Videos of the projects can be found at http://www.thinglink.com/scene/597214845217013762.

This funding is in addition to £100,000 committed by the Home Office to run a female genital mutilation community engagement initiative. The Home Office is funding 12 voluntary and community sector organisations to carry out community work to raise awareness of female genital mutilation amongst women already affected by this and young girls at-risk, as well as men in the community.

On 5 December 2014 the Government also launched a new female genital mutilation unit to drive a step change in nationwide outreach on female genital mutilation with criminal justice partners, children’s services, healthcare professionals and affected communities.

The unit will deliver outreach support to local areas to assist them in developing their local response to tackling female genital mutilation and to raise awareness of the unit. The first phase of this work will be carried out in a series of training workshops which Forward UK are delivering to Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards in high prevalence female genital mutilation areas.

The unit will also offer bespoke targeted peer support to local areas who want to strengthen their ability to tackle female genital mutilation. Organisations interested in receiving peer support or an outreach presentation can email the unit at FGMenquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure better co-ordination of guidance given to medical practitioners, teachers, and faith leaders on reporting and protecting girls from female genital mutilation.[HL3452]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to increase prosecution rates against those who have committed offences relating to female genital mutilation.[HL3453]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to collate statistics centrally on cases of female genital mutilation, both in the United Kingdom and involving British citizens extra-territorially. [HL3455]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the recommendations of peer studies on female genital mutilation, such as the Bristol PEER Study.[HL3456]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): At the Girl Summit, hosted by the Prime Minister, in July 2014, the Government set out a clear commitment to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and announced a comprehensive package of domestic measures to achieve this. The Government published update multi-agency guidelines to support better co-ordination of guidance on protecting girls from FGM. On 5 December the Government published a public consultation which seeks views on how to put these guidelines on a statutory basis to increase awareness of FGM and improve compliance with good practice.

The Government also set out a range of measures to improve the law enforcement response and increase prosecution rates for FGM including the introduction of new legislation, the publication of new police guidance on FGM, and a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into ‘so called’ honour based violence with a focus on FGM to commence in 2015. In addition, 42 forces have signed joint protocols with the Crown Prosecution Service on the investigation and prosecution of FGM, and the Government published a consultation on 5 December on how to introduce a mandatory reporting duty to increase referrals to the police in order to support more prosecutions.

A prevalence study on FGM was also published by Equality Now and City University on 22 July, part-funded by the Home Office, identifying that approximately 60, 000 girls aged 0-14 have been born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM. Further data disaggregated to a local level will be published in early 2015. In addition, the Health and Social Care Information Centre published the first ever NHS FGM data on 16 October. This is a critical first step in understanding the extent of FGM in England as reported to health professionals.

The Government works in close partnership with stakeholders in reviewing peer studies on FGM, and is committed to identifying and sharing good practice. On 22 July, the Government published a FGM resource pack on gov.uk including examples of good local practice in Bristol informed by the Bristol Peer study.

(via Parliament.uk)

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