Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not only a common practice in African countries and the Middle East, but also in the United Kingdom. According to a report released by Royal Colleges of Midwifery, Nursing and Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the UK, more than 66,000 women in England and Wales have been victims to FGM and more than 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk.
The authors of “Tackling Female Genital Mutilation In The UK” wants FGM to be treated the same as any other kind of child abuse and any evidence of FGM should be reported to the police. According to Janet Fyle, a midwife and one of the authors of the report, it’s inconceivable why a health care worker wouldnt’ report such abuse.
“If we are applying child protection laws, we cannot pick and choose which crimes against children we pursue,” she said.
“We are not asking for more money or legislation, we are just asking that child protection laws should work for all children not just some.”
The report not only recommends that FGM should be treated as child abuse, but also that health care workers should identify those girls at risk and treat them as if they were at risk of child abuse. It also wants the government to provide an awareness strategy campaign and to hold health workers responsible for monitoring FGM among patients.
In regards to the religious and racial aspects of FGM, the report places the child’s safety first.
“We need to be mindful of cultural and religious sensibilities but safeguarding the child from FGM has to be the priority. If a child is at risk it is better to protect them rather than religious and cultural feelings,”said Shaista Gohir, the chairwoman of the Muslim Women’s Network.