The Commission’s unambiguous and robust position is that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) amounts to torture and risks the health and lives of girls and women. The continued practice of FGM in Britain is therefore a clear violation of the rights of girls and women, and the lack of effective protection against this violation breaches the State’s international legal obligations. The fact that domestic law prohibits FGM does not fully discharge the State’s obligations; the State is under a positive duty to ensure those at risk have effective protection. Misplaced cultural sensitivity towards communities which practice FGM causes harm to girls and women and fails to protect their human rights.
In summary, the Commission recommends:
- The Government should put in place a comprehensive and co-ordinated UK-wide strategy to tackle FGM, recognising the different legislation, policy, reporting and support systems in place across the countries. The strategy should have clear leadership, objectives, targeted and effective forms of accountability and adequate resources.
- More resources should be focussed on prevention through awareness-raising and education in affected communities, with the aim of changing attitudes to FGM.
- Key professionals should receive mandatory training about FGM.
- Relevant authorities should make clear that FGM is child abuse and as such is subject to existing mandatory reporting requirements.
- All relevant professionals should be reminded of their duty to report child abuse, including FGM, under existing safeguarding procedures.
- Further work is needed to establish the correct approach to reporting in cases where the presenting FGM survivor is an adult and does not want the crime against her reported to the police, taking account of Article 8 rights to privacy and any increased risks to children.
Last updated: 06 May 2016