Extra FGM training for public sector staff

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Extra training is to be given to teachers, doctors and social workers to help them to identify and assist girls at risk of female genital mutilation.

It is among a package of measures being unveiled this week by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a London summit.

New guidance about the practice will be part of compulsory training in public sector organisations.

Advice about FGM is already issued to many staff but professional bodies have called for a different approach.

The partial or total removal of external female genitalia is illegal in the UK but the practice occurs in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Mr Clegg will tell the Girl Summit being hosted by the government and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef): "Without the right knowledge, skills and experience, people feel like they don't have the cultural understanding and authority to even talk about this practice honestly, never mind intervene when they're worried someone is vulnerable."

He will say: "Female genital mutilation is one of the oldest and the most extreme ways in which societies have sought to control the lives and bodies of generations of young women and girls.

"We're currently failing thousands of girls... central to tackling it are the doctors, nurses, teachers and legal professionals who need to be equipped to identify and support young women and girls at risk."

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Female genital mutilation

  • Includes "the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons"
  • Practised in 29 countries in Africa and some countries in Asia and the Middle East
  • An estimated three million girls and women worldwide are at risk each year
  • About 125 million victims estimated to be living with the consequences
  • It is commonly carried out on young girls, often between infancy and the age of 15
  • Often motivated by beliefs about what is considered proper sexual behaviour, to prepare a girl or woman for adulthood and marriage and to ensure "pure femininity"
  • Dangers include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth
  • In December 2012, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for all member states to ban the practice

Source: World Health Organization

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Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Controlling the lives and bodies of young women and girls through FGM has no place in modern Britain.

"The RCN has worked with the government on the development of training and guidance to help equip frontline staff with the skills they need to tackle this most sensitive of issues."

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, welcomed the government plans but said they had to be backed up with "resources and commitment" to ensure staff have access to the training.

Earlier this year, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said school staff needed more training to help them identity and protect girls at risk.

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