In conjunction with the release of new prevalence data by local authority area we, along with Equality Now, Rosa – The UK fund for women and girls, and The Royal College of Midwives, have released new recommendations for authorities and statutory agencies working to tackle the practice on a local level.
The report recommends the following to local authorities:
- Raise awareness around the harms of FGM including long term consequences by working in collaboration with others and highlighting services available for survivors. This could be carried out sensitively in a healthcare setting by NHS peer support workers who assist with particular community needs.
- When commissioning specialist care, should help Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to ensure that adequate resources and support services are available. Input from the CCG and local Healthwatch group is crucial in service provision.
- Consult FGM survivors and expert voluntary sector organisations knowledgeable on the issue. Local authorities should consider if there are suitable local community organisations or individual peer educators in the area who have the experience and capacity to work with and support affected communities and also assist in training practitioners such as GPs, teachers and school nurses. Training should focus on clinical and psychological help but also safeguarding girls at risk by getting the message across to parents and communities that FGM is against the law.
- Make prevention of FGM explicit in local child protection policies. FGM should also be incorporated into any existing violence against women strategy developed by local authorities which should clearly state that FGM in all its forms is a human rights violation.
- Ensure that practitioners, in the health, education and social services sectors, among others, are appropriately trained and made aware of their individual responsibility both in preventing FGM and supporting women and girls affected by it.
- Support and involve local community groups and peer communicators as much as possible.
Sioned Churchill, Director of Special Initiatives & Evaluation, Trust for London, said:
"This new data shows that no local authority in England or Wales is likely to be without women and girls who have survived the pain of FGM. To be able to effectively support them, and to protect girls who may be at risk of FGM, it is crucial to have coordinated local strategies. ”We urge local authorities to act on the data for their area and to help them to do this, we – along with Equality Now, Rosa Fund and The Royal College of Midwives – have produced a practical guide that is being launched today. The guide helps local authorities to understand the new data and gives advice on the type of action required. ”We know that the scale of support on offer to those at risk varies significantly across the country. In addition, the approach needed may be different according to whether it is a high or low prevalence area. The guide stresses the need for sensitive interventions, involving FGM survivors and community experts, which raise awareness of the harms of FGM without stigmatising whole communities. ”Finally, the guide provides good practice examples, including how to make best use of existing resources and how to work with community groups. It’s only by working with community groups that we can achieve long term and lasting change in attitudes that will protect women and girls at risk of FGM".
Sioned Churchill, Director of Special Initiatives & Evaluation, Trust for London