The Department for International Development (DFID) endorsed the International Development Committee’s recommendation that the UK’s support to efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) within a generation should be undertaken with careful planning, but that it should move quickly to capitalise on current momentum amid rising global awareness of the issue.
The original Committee report urged the UK Government to take action within its own borders, where at least 20,000 girls are at risk from FGM, as well as overseas. In particular, the Committee concluded that it is unforgivable that not a single prosecution for FGM has taken place in the UK since it became illegal in 1985.
Speaking about the Government’s response Fiona O’Donnell MP, a member of the International Development Committee said today,
”Female genital mutilation is a harsh practice that routinely causes severe pain and psychological trauma. In some cases it will lead to fatal infection. It is usually performed on children by unskilled practitioners with unsterilized instruments and no anaesthetic.
“During our recent inquiry, we were shocked to hear that 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with consequences of FGM. We also noted that some of these sufferers live within our own borders and called for robust action to counter the political correctness that inhibits action to challenge this unacceptable practice. It is important this is made a real priority for all relevant departments –especially health, education and the Home Office.
“The UK’s basic failure to act home significantly undermines its credibility in countries like Somalia.”
DFID accepts the Committee’s other key recommendation that UK support for efforts intended to end FGM internationally within a generation should be deployed rapidly to capitalise on current momentum amid rising global awareness of the issue.
The Committee welcomes this response but reinforces the importance of DFID taking a phased and flexible approach to tackling FGM , and cautions against rushing into large scale programming based on any single model.
The original IDC report, published on 4 June 2013, assessed efforts to tackle FGM within a wider assessment of UK Government action on violence against women and girls internationally. The Government has two months to respond to select committee reports. The full response is published today.