Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a crime and it is child abuse. The Government will not tolerate a practice that can cause extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls. That is why our work to end this practice is an integral part of the Government’s 2016-2020 Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
We are taking action to ensure women and girls who have undergone FGM receive the care and support they need, deter potential perpetrators and identify and protect girls at risk. We have significantly strengthened the law on FGM, including introducing a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM and creating civil FGM Protection Orders to ensure we are able to protect women and girls at the earliest opportunity. These are already being used to good effect and since their introduction in July 2015, 79 FGM protection orders have been issued.
It is also necessary to raise awareness amongst frontline professionals to ensure they are able to effectively identify girls who may have undergone the procedure and those at risk. In April 2016 we published statutory multi-agency guidance on FGM to support professionals when responding to potential cases and to take necessary preventative action. We have developed free online training on FGM which, to date, has been completed by nearly 90,000 professionals, and the Home Office FGM Unit is driving a step-change in national outreach on FGM, including speaking at a number of awareness raising events across the UK.
In addition, significant work is under way to improve the response from health and social care professionals. The Department of Health is leading a £4m national FGM Prevention Programme, and, to strengthen the social care response, the Department for Education has provided nearly £2 million for a national programme backed by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association. The Department for Education has also recently announced funding for FGM organisations FORWARD and Midaye Somali Development Network to help safeguard girls from FGM.