Public Health Minister Jane Ellison and leading healthcare specialists will be discussing female genital mutilation at Amnesty International in Shoreditch this Tuesday.
“Working Together to End FGM” will cover topics including early identification, safeguarding, preventing, and the international approach to the issue.
The conference will be hosted by The Black Women’s Health & Family Support group, a Cambridge Heath community organisation.
It is the first event of its kind to take place in London since 1994.
Jocelyn Hayford, the director of the group, said: “We want to give people insight about what is going on and how to safeguard children and work with them and the community. There are many young people at risk in London.”
She added: “We have to raise awareness to stop children from undergoing this procedure.”
Despite the fact female genital mutilation has been against the law since 1985, the UK has yet to uphold a successful conviction for the crime.
It is usually carried out before the age of 15 and can result in painful long-term complications. Up to 66,000 women living in the UK have been affected and up to 20,000 girls are at risk.
In June, the NSPCC launched its first female genital mutilation health line.
Last week, Ellison was one of 56 MPs who signed two Commons motions to debate FGM in Parliament.
Ellison said: “FGM is illegal and a form of child abuse. It is our duty to safeguard girls and address the longer-term health needs of those girls and women living with FGM. We are already working actively with the Health and Social Care Information Centre to look at how best the NHS could collect and share data and I am working hard, with colleagues across Government, to protect future generations of girls from this abhorrent practice.”
Dr Comfort Momoh MBE, who is co-chair for the Black Women’s Health and Family Support group, has worked with victims for more than 30 years in the UK and runs the African Well Woman Clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in Central London.
Momoh said: “From the research I’ve done among professionals I’m aware that there still lack of knowledge. Many midwives and obstetricians don’t know about FGM or where to refer woman and girls for support. We have to collaborate to educate the community and eradicate this suffering.”
The conference will run from 9:30 to 3:30pm, tickets are available through The Black Women’s Health & Family Support group.