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FGM must form ‘essential’ part of all child protection training, says report

Home Affairs committee urges national action plan on female genital mutilation.

All social workers should receive statutory training around female genital mutilation (FGM), a report by the Home Affairs Committee has recommended.

The committee’s findings, published today, highlight a lack of understanding among frontline professionals – including people working in health, education and social care – as creating a major barrier to identifying and intervening in the practice of FGM.

The report argues that FGM must be treated first and foremost as a child protection issue, and that training – both in education and as part of continued professional development – should be “mainstreamed as part of the existing safeguarding framework”.

It also recommends that the government update its multi-agency practice guidelines on FGM and place them on a statutory footing, giving them parity with guidelines for handling cases of forced marriage.

Cllr Ann Lucas, chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“FGM is child abuse and local authorities are determined to work with their communities to end the practice. Councils are already supporting local champions who make the case for stopping the practice of FGM. However, their work to change long-standing cultural practices is made more difficult when community or religious leaders continue to promote it.

Lucas added: “The Serious Crime Bill needs to be amended to address this issue by making it a criminal offence to encourage or promote the practice of FGM, not just the physical act of an individual assisting or carrying out mutilation. This is a necessary step in bringing cases against those who support FGM, even indirectly, and to help change attitudes towards this practice within communities.”

For the full story and related articles, please see the Community Care website.

[Text copyright 2014 Community Care]