Female Genital Mutilation – Professional Neglect; Legitimate Moral Panic
Estimates suggest more than 50 small children in Britain are at risk of, or suffer, the grim cruelty of FGM every day. It leaves deep scars, physically and mentally, and it maims and kills. How much more pain must be inflicted on girls and babies before this practice is stopped? Who will accept responsibility for halting the horrors of FGM?
Will only a full moral panic about scandals of professional ’failure to care’ bring the barbarism of FGM to an end?
Please sign and forward this e-petition (for UK citizens), posted 25 June 2012 on the HM Government website:
If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag #NoFGM and follow @NoFGM1. Thank you.
How much more fuss must be made, to halt the life-long damage to children (in Britain and elsewhere) of genital ‘cutting’? The news today that two men in Birmingham have been arrested in connection with alleged female genital mutilation (FGM) demonstrates how critical public awareness is to the effective safe-keeping of vulnerable young people.
These arrests follow a Sunday Times report last week that no prosecutions for FGM have ever been taken in the UK. In fact, although it has been illegal in Britain for years to undertake the procedure in the UK, or to procure it elsewhere, the number of babies and girls in or from Britain who are forced to undergo it is thought to be actually rising.
For some FGM, in Britain and elsewhere, has been a grim reality hovering around our consciousness for years or decades. On occasion women who have experienced it at first hand have been brave enough to speak out in the hope of averting infliction of this terrible procedure on others; and there are also those of us who have tried to keep the issue live - and largely failed, perhaps in part because the reality of its infliction on anyone is so dreadful that people choose not to believe or think about it.
But now at last, it seems, some action.
We cannot as yet know the reality of these cases, but the catalogue of ways in which this should be enhanced and carried through is vast, and has been explored by experienced professionals elsewhere.
There are however surely some actions which self-evidently must be included:
- establishing a clear epidemiology of risk via a full (anonymised) register of FGM child abuse – with sanctions for professionals who don’t register all risks fully, and a body which takes responsibility for the register;
- prevention of obvious ‘at risk’ by working actively and consistently with all mothers who present as FGM at delivery, to ensure it doesn’t happen to their own daughters;
- adequate numbers of im/e-migration officers at all appropriate (high-risk) times such as holidays to ensure that girls are not forced to undergo FGM e.g. in their ‘home’ countries;
- awareness-raising as an on-going and active programme in all schools (not just state ones, of course) to equip staff properly to protect children at risk;
- active training of police and other agency professionals, to ensure they understand the gravity of FGM as an offence, and recognise that this cannot be a no-go area, as some have claimed;
- collaboration very actively with ‘community’ leaders in areas where the risk is high, to ensure the illegality and gravity of FGM is full appreciated;
- … and others can of course (and are welcome to) amend or add to this list.
The challenge here is that most of these programmes are cross/inter-disciplinary. But so are those of decent elder-care.
There is already a scandal about the way practitioners and professionals have neglected the needs of older people. An often legitimate moral panic has set in about neglect of elderly and vulnerable adults. How long before it spreads to include the unforgivable neglect of over 20,000 children at risk of FGM in the UK, every year?
It can now only be a matter of time, unless good and very effective practice is established very soon, before the current cases about to go through the courts raise very serious questions about a similar neglect of the desperate vulnerability of small children undergoing illegal FGM.
A scandal unfolding?
FGM is an unimaginable horror; but if you – whether community leader, policy maker, nurse, teacher, or simply responsible citizen – don’t in all conscience want to think about it, you need to stop it happening.
The clock is ticking. And in the meantime, every hour, of every day, another two or more babies and girls in the UK are learning the awful reality of FGM .
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For more general information on FGM please see: #NoFGM: A Listing For Action & References On Female Genital Mutilation.
If you have a Twitter account and would like to draw more attention to this issue, please use the hashtag #NoFGM and follow @NoFGM1.
Please also sign our HMG e-petition: STOP Female Genital Mutilation (FGM / ‘cutting’) in Britain