A new policy to help female genital mutilation sufferers and prevent new FGM cases has been put in place in Hackney – after a public health report highlighted a considerable increase of the practice in the borough.
City and Hackney Safeguarding Board, Hackney CVS – Hackney’s leading voluntary and community sector support agency and local Council for Voluntary Service – the Metropolitan Police and Children’s Social care team have collectively developed the ‘Tackling and Preventing FGM’ policy. It will be launched in February.
Following the government’s introduction of FGM Mandatory Reporting Duty in October 2015, an Experimental Statistics report on FGM showed that there was a 95% rise in FGM incidents since 2014 in Hackney.
The Mandatory Reporting Duty makes it incumbent upon all regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales who identify a case of FGM involving those under 18 to inform the police.
NHS Digital data showed that Hackney had 15 newly recorded FGM cases between July and September 2016. These cases were identified after women had visited their GPs. Between January and March 2016, the number of newly recorded FGM sufferers was 23. This figure rose to 25 between April and June 2016.
Hackney FGM protocol will ensure that any woman who is found to have suffered from FGM will be offered counselling and support and be put in contact with social services. An assessment of those considered at risk of FGM – girls under the age of 18 in a FGM sufferer’s household – will also be carried out.
The World Health Organisation defines FGM as ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.’
The Home Affairs Committee warned, in September last year that the FGM prevention programme would only succeed if GPs and clinicians fulfil their new statutory obligation to identify and notify the police of new cases.
Hackney Council have responded to this by making sure support is available for women who have suffered because of this illegal practice.
A multi-agency FGM steering group will coordinate the development of the FGM action plan in Hackney. It has ensured that information on FGM has been incorporated into Hackney’s Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) support brochures.
The strategy has also directed a whole school approach to FGM in two primary schools with the Christopher Winter Project. It works with anti-FGM campaigners – such as Daughters of Eve, Family Action, Forward, Hawa Trust – so it can establish what actions are needed to prevent FGM.
It gives funding to local voluntary community organisations working to tackle this issue and has helped Homerton University Hospital develop a FGM policy.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that FGM could be “wiped out in a generation” if everyone worked together to confront this “horrendous crime.”
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