Crime writer Ruth Rendell is supporting the London Safeguarding Children Board’s efforts to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM).
Baroness Rendell, a high profile campaigner against FGM, spoke at the launch of a resource pack drawn up by the London Safeguarding Children Board. This innovative pack brings together a wide range of existing work into one handy document for the first time, and will be a key tool to help professionals and community groups work together to combat FGM.
The pack is designed for all people who work with children, but especially midwives and other health professionals, teachers, social workers and police officers.
It contains detailed information about FGM, as well as guidelines on how to spot victims of abuse or girls at risk. These include a set of questions for midwives to ask women attending their clinics. There is also advice on how community groups can help to prevent FGM, and information to help professionals discuss the issue with parents and children.
The pack has been completed ahead of the Christmas school holidays, which is a common time for girls to be taken abroad to undergo FGM so they can recover before the start of the new term.
Female genital mutilation, sometimes referred to as female circumcision, involves girls of all ages. It can range from injury to the clitoris through to complete removal of the labia and clitoris which is then sewn up leaving only a tiny opening. It is done without their consent and often carried out in unhygienic conditions with no anaesthetic.
Chair of the London Safeguarding Children Board, Cheryl Coppell said: “Female genital mutilation is a serious form of child abuse, and it’s vital that people are given the support and advice that they need to help end this practice. Young girls are left with the risk of serious infections and infertility and in some tragic cases they die.
“The survivors of this procedure are often left with psychological scars from which they may never recover.
“We have worked closely with all the agencies involved in supporting these women to bring together a number of useful resources and information into one central reference point. We are confident this will be a real help for people who work with children and families who may be affected by female genital mutilation.
“We are committed to offering survivors the support they need as well as preventing other girls from going through the pain and trauma.”
On a national level a cross-government FGM coordinator was appointed in September 2009, to provide a single point of contact for stakeholders in and out of Government and to lead on work on FGM.
Detective Constable Jason Morgan, Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Project Azure said: “The resource pack is valuable to professionals working in the health, education and wider child protection arena. It gives comprehensive information, advice and guidance that will help to ensure that everything is being done to protect girls from FGM.”
“The MPS will continue to work with all of our partner agencies and other organisations to engage with practising communities with a view to empowering them, with the information they need to challenge this practice from within the community.”