FGM: 'More community funding needed' to maintain progress

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Community groups involved in an initiative to tackle female genital mutilation in England and Wales have warned that future progress could be threatened by a lack of local funding.

Over six years, the Tackling FGM Initiative has given £2.8m of funding to community-based prevention schemes.

It said in a report that the funding had helped spark a necessary debate about FGM.

But it added that maintaining momentum would be difficult without more money.

The initiative was set up by five charitable trusts, including Comic Relief, to discourage the cutting of girls' sexual organs.

As well as funding the work of dozens of community groups, the money also paid for the training of more than 6,000 teachers and healthcare staff in how to spot and respond to the illegal act of female genital mutilation.

Under the scheme, people were encouraged to work within their own communities. For example, a Somali elder in Bolton recruited other men in his community to emphasise the need to protect their daughters.

But the Tackling FGM Initiative's report said there was still a lack of clarity over who should be funding future FGM prevention work.

It said local authorities, health and wellbeing boards, and public health or clinical commissioning groups all had a part to play.

Changing attitudes

The report says it is difficult to measure the success of preventing FGM because of the lack of data about an illegal procedure, but, using surveys, it found attitudes to FGM had changed.

It concludes that awareness of FGM has increased, particularly among women, and there has been a strong focus on educating young people from a wide range of communities.

But the report warns that funding is still the major barrier to ending mutilation and the authors say, in the current financial climate, it will be difficult to maintain progress.

It said: "There is good evidence that the community-based approach has worked with a range of audiences within communities affected by FGM and has started to create a critical mass of people who are opposed to the practice."

A Government spokesperson said: "We know that changing attitudes within communities is key to ending FGM, and we will continue to work with community organisations and survivors to help drive progress."

Facts about FGM

  • FGM is the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons
  • It is illegal in the UK and classed as a form of child abuse
  • Around 10,000 girls under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales may have undergone FGM
  • Approximately 120,000 women over 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM

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