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‘Immediate action needed to stop FGM in the UK’

Home Affairs Committee publishes its report on FGM

The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has published its report, Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan. The Committee recommends the immediate implementation of a national action plan and specific steps to respond to this growing crisis. The Committee found:

Prosecuting FGM

Professionals in all sectors should ensure the safeguarding of at-risk girls

Changes to the law on FGM

Better services for women and girls living with FGM

Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"FGM is an ongoing national scandal which is likely to have resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care. Successive governments, politicians, the police, health, education and social care sectors should all share responsibility for the failure in recent years to respond adequately to the growing prevalence of FGM in the UK.  We need to act immediately.

It is unacceptable that those with clear access to evidence of these crimes do nothing to help those at risk. We must follow the example of France and remove any barriers to referral.  Conversations and checking must become the norm. In 12 months' time, if reporting does not increase, we must make a failure to report a criminal offence.

We owe survivors of FGM the chance to save others from this horrific abuse. Being able to provide anonymous testimony and having a safe place to call home is essential to help eradicate this practice. We must use every opportunity the law allows to give victims a voice.

We pay tribute to the work of a small number of individuals and groups who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of FGM. The UK should be an international leader in its response. The Prime Minister's summit later this month presents a vital opportunity to demonstrate that leadership and I hope that our recommendations will be adopted in full."

The report is here. An article by Melanie Hepworth of Covent Garden Law, written in anticipation of the report, is here

3/7/14