Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, a United Nations sponsored annual awareness day which aims to eradicate FGM across the world.
As safeguarding professionals, we have a responsibility to support the elimination of the practice. We have provided you with some further information below on FGM and further support.
Hear from Mbalu Mansaray, a survivor of FGM, about the long term impacts of the practice.
What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation or ‘FGM’ is a form of physical abuse. It is also a form of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
FGM has long been challenged within communities impacted by the practice and following the introduction of enhanced legislation and mandatory reporting, statutory authorities now pay more attention to the issue.
UNICEF report that approx. 200 million girls and women alive today, in 30 countries, have experienced some form of FGM.
The World Health Organisation, describes four types of FGM:
Type 1: Usually refers to partial or complete removal of the clitoris and/or clitoral hood (the sensitive/erectile part of the female genitals).
Type 2: Excision is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the (inner) labia minora, with or without excision of the (outer) labia majora.
Type 3 (most severe):(infibulation) Involves the removal of all or part of the inner and outer labia and usually the clitoris, and the fusion of the wound. A small hole is left for the passage of urine and menstrual blood, and the wound may be opened for intercourse and childbirth.
Type 4: Refers to miscellaneous procedures such as symbolic piercing of the clitoris or labia, burning of the clitoris, and cutting into the vagina to widen it.
It is generally understood that the risks to health and life from these practices increase with the severity of the procedure – type 1 and 2 are thought to be most common.
Safeguarding professionals need to understand the issue and how they can protect young people from harm. There is debate around the prevalence of the practice within the UK, and communities worldwide.
For professionals, the focus should be placed on educating and safeguarding young people. You should avoid insensitive interventions or poorly informed suspicions – this can risk stigmatising communities where FGM is practiced.
What you can do
Educate yourself further on the issue and understand what you need to know in your professional capacity – this could be from wider reading or access to relevant training.
You should always be familiar with the reporting pathways within your own school or organisation. This includes how to escalate cases where there are inadequate responses or barriers to reporting.
If you are a Safer School, you have access to our CPD accredited FGM awareness course for professionals and school staff. Click here to find out if you are a Safer School. Completing this course will help you build your understanding. We would also encourage you to look at the further support section.
We deliver face to face training courses on FGM Awareness and create bespoke Apps for safeguarding professionals that provides the right information where they need it, when they need it. To learn more contact [email protected]