VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK is concerned with the current multi-agency strategy to addressing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), not least that it may undermine progressive work that has taken place since the FGM Act 2003. We fear that the NHS position may go on to undermine the trust and relationship between health and the community and even more importantly, has social care been sufficiently prepared to accommodate the level of referrals that may come to them as a result?
For every victim of FGM to be viewed as a potential perpetrator is of grave concern. Given the change of demographics in the UK, we have come across many FGM survivors who had the practice performed on them outside of this country. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the relevant communities are shifting from the practice of FGM, albeit ingrained within their belief system, having understood the health implications and the fact that it is unlawful. Many members of the community have also begun to speak out against the procedure on women and girls. Thus it is our view that we should first seek to offer appropriate measures of support rather than automatic referral to Children’s Social Care.
VCF offers an independent and community perspective to the FGM debate – ahead of a summit co‑hosted by the UK Prime Minister and UNICEF on 22 July to build on current efforts and to rally a global movement to end Female Genital Mutilation.
At VCF, we believe it is important to address FGM from a children’s rights perspective and within the wider child protection framework in the UK, alongside other harmful practices linked to faith or belief. The subject of FGM is no longer taboo; indeed, there is international consensus, even within relevant communities, that the practice of FGM on a young girl is child abuse.
In Uganda, scholars have been telling their people that the practice is not Islamic (haram) which has helped to reduce the practice. It is now established amongst communities that the practice derives from a cultural perspective rather than a religious one. This enables us to deal with the issue in a wider communication for those communities with no religious belief but practising FGM (as in the case of the South of Senegal, Casamance region).