Thousands of young girls at risk of FGM

Louisa Thomson

Louisa Thomson - Credit: Archant

More than 3,000 young girls in the borough are thought to be at risk of female genital mutilation.

Homerton Hospital’s maternity service has identified around 70 women who have been subjected to FGM since May and 245 since 2008.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) – the partial or total removal of the external genitalia – has been illegal in the UK since 1986.

The practice, carried out by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities, causes significant health problems, ranging from severe pain, emotional and psychological shock, to chronic infection, complications in reproductive and sexual health, and even death.

The council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Commission conducted an investigation into how to protect women at risk.

The Commission talked to FGM survivors and campaigners and heard how the council has been working with campaigners, clinicians, schools and police since July 2014 to develop a joint action plan around prevention, protection and supporting survivors.

Under this new plan, IT systems are being designed to record all cases of FGM; and the council will be speaking to communities at risk and investing money in voluntary groups.

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FGM is also being included in personal health and social education classes in schools.

A commission report that came out of the investigation stated more could be done and outlined some recommendations which will be presented to the cabinet in July.

These included: strengthening senior leadership to implement new policies, involving more survivors, men and faith leaders in future work, and increasing funding to create specialist services.

Chairman of the Commission during the investigation, Cllr Louisa Thomson, said: “This investigation was a way of increasing knowledge and understanding of what is taking place across the borough to tackle FGM in Hackney and learn how we can develop and coordinate further work with our partners.

“Hackney Council is helping lead the way in terms of how councils respond to FGM and whilst considerable progress has been made in the borough over the last year, the Commission did have concerns that new protocol had not been fully implemented yet and referrals to children’s social services had not been increasing despite the number of girls identified as potentially at risk.”