Thursday, July 2, 2009
By Lorraine Connolly, Community Newswire HEALTH Circumcision Southwark, 01 Jul 2009 - 15:42 Maria Eagle, deputy minister for Women and Equality, spoke to education, health and third sector professionals on Tuesday, about the dangers of female genital mutilation (FGM). The Minister was speaking at an event held at the Globe Academy in Southwark to launch a factsheet designed to help raise awareness about this illegal and cruel practice. She highlighted the need for increased awareness and vigilance before the school summer holidays, a time when girls are at increased risk of being taken abroad to undergo the practice. Ms Eagle said: "Violence against women and girls is totally unacceptable. The Government is determined to tackle it, in all its forms. Female genital mutilation is a cruel practice, with devastating physical and psychological effects. "It has been banned in this country for nearly 25 years but in 2003 this Government went further and introduced legislation that made it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad to undergo this procedure. But we must continue to work together to protect the welfare of young girls." FGM, also known as 'female genital cutting' or 'female circumcision', is considered child abuse in the UK and is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It is a procedure involving the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. It has been estimated that up to 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK. The practice largely affects the African community, although other communities can be affected, such as Yemini, Kurdish, Indonesian and Pakistani. The FGM factsheet explains what this practice is, who is affected by it, how to identify those at risk, health risks of FGM, and where to get further guidance. It will be distributed to professionals in schools and Local Safeguarding Children Boards. It will also be available on the Government Equalities Office Website at www.equalities.gov.uk or via Teachernet, www.teachernet.gov.uk. Tuesday's event was organised in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police's Project Azure campaign, which this year is focussing on FGM. For more information on local safeguarding children boards, visit www.everychildmatters.gov.uk.