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Female Genital Mutilation

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority social services departments have reported evidence of female circumcision among their ethnic minority communities; and what steps she has taken to tackle the practice of female circumcision in ethnic minority communities. (184580)

I have been asked to reply.

Data on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are not collected or held centrally by the Department of Health (DH), the Department responsible for adult services, or the department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Department responsible for children’s services.

We are taking the following steps to tackle the practice of FGM:

DH has provided grant aid to the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) for work on the prevalence of FGM, which will help local authorities plan services for the communities affected by FGM.

DCSF’s publication ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ has been issued to local agencies including local authorities. This document includes guidance on the need to identify children at risk of FGM and take action to safeguard them.

To raise awareness of the risks of FGM, and to discourage its practice, DCSF is currently providing a specialist voluntary organisation (Agency for Culture Change Management) with more than £130,000 over three years in order to: raise the profile of the dangers of FGM to girls across black and minority ethnic communities; and provide training for professionals on protection from FGM and treating those already harmed.

‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education’, which came into force in January 2007, also contains guidance about FGM and signposts further sources of information available on the DCSF’s teachernet website.

FGM is recognised as a form of domestic abuse highlighted in ‘Responding to domestic abuse: A handbook for health professionals’, published by DH in January 2006.

There are at least 10 specialist clinics in the NHS which treat women and girls who have been mutilated. These clinics all have trained and culturally sensitive staff who offer a range of health care services for women and girls including reversal surgery.