Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

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Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Female Genital Mutilation – new guidelines launched

Yesterday we (the Government) launched new guidelines to help front line professionals – nurses, doctors, teachers and social workers – know how to recognise and prevent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The guidelines are being sent to chairs of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, Directors of Children’s Services and Regional Directors of Public Health, will help professionals:

* identify and prevent further incidents;
* ensure that victims and potential victims receive the response and support they need; and
* provide a step-by-step practical guide to sensitively handling cases of FGM

The guidelines have been developed across government departments in partnership with the Royal Colleges, FGM experts, charitable organisations and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

This is part of my Home Office domestic violence portfolio. FGM is a most brutal crime and has the most terrible and long lasting effects on women and girls. One of the challenges we face in putting an end to this practice is the lack of knowledge about how to recognise the signs and what to do when you do recognise the signs.

I attended a recent round table on FGM as a pre-launch event to set out just how – local teachers, nursing staff, police officers, community leaders and survivors of FGM can work together to end such a cruel practice.

If a teacher had a pupil come into class with a black eye – that teacher would surely and rightly be concerned and ask questions. We need teachers to be equally concerned if, for example, a girl keeps taking abnormally long times when she goes to the toilet (one of the signs of FGM).

This is what Hagir Ahmed, survivor of FGM and Manor Gardens advocate said:

“I had the experience at the age of five or six. When you are a child you usually don’t remember things at that age but I remember. I remember being at a party and the people holding me down. My legs. My hands. My knees. And then I remember the practitioner with the knife.

“I don’t remember any anaesthetic. I just remember crying, crying and pleading. I was completely shattered, emotionally and physically.”

Joy Clarke, Lead Specialist Midwife at Whittington Hospital:

“When people migrate they take their customs with them and FGM is practiced in communities to keep those communities together. Because they love their children they continue to do it.

“Organisations like the Manor Gardens Advocacy Project are already doing good work to educate communities. I work with Manor Gardens to go out and run workshops with social workers and teachers in practising communities so they can recognise if a child is at risk. And I talk to parents about the physical and mental health implications and the law. In 99 per cent of cases this makes a difference but we need to revisit the families to make sure they have understood.”

Fri 25 February 2011
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Comments

  1. Lynne can you confirm the stats I have read…

    Is it true 60,000 people in the UK have actually suffered FGM here in this country? I have also read that up to 2,000 happen per year?

    Éoin

  2. Dougf says:

    “When people migrate they take their customs with them and FGM is practiced in communities to keep those communities together. Because they love their children they continue to do it.”
    Well isn’t that special ?

    There’s your problem RIGHT THERE. You don’t need more sensitive ‘guidelines’ to deal with this, you need a State governed by Napier-like thought processes. Some things are unacceptable ‘per se’ and those ‘communities’ believing otherwise should not even BE in the UK. What are you planning to do about that ?

    Band-aids on a festering open wound will not work. FGM is an abomination and should be punished with draconian enthusiasm, wherever and whenever it is discovered. It must be pretty easy to identify what ‘communities’ are doing this, is it not ?

  3. Harriet Harms Man says:

    Lynne what are your views on male genital mutilation please?

    You are supposed to be responsible for equality, yet as the law stand it’s ok to cut off parts of a boy’s penis without his consent yet illegal to do the same to females. how can that possibly be right.

    Either it’s ok to remove health tissue and perform risky surgery on children or it isn’t. As I understand it the inequality is so severe in this area that the Birmingham NHS even performs male religious genital mutilation at the taxpayer’s expense!

    Seriousness it not an issue either – there are four types of female genital mutilation, two of them actually being LESS harmful and LESS severe than male genital mutilation.

    What action is the coalition going to take to stop male genital mutilation please? When will boys get equality in this area?

  4. Senach says:

    I noticed that boy’s were not mentioned,far more boy’s have their genital’s mutilated than girl’s,why are the girl’s more important? Should this not have been a gender neutral piece of legislation.

  5. Ron Low says:

    For 94% of the world and indeed in the UK it is illegal to do even a pin-poke to a minor female’s genitals for the purpose of drawing a ceremonial drop of blood with no religious exemption.

    When will males get equal protection?

    Foreskin amputation has severe effects on sexuality. Only the person directly affected should be permitted to give consent to amputation of healthy normal body parts.

  6. Karl Marx says:

    And yet another ‘equality’ minded government busy-body who only sees half a problem.

    “Hi, I’m here to talk about equality…. girls this… girls that.. women this…women that… did somebody mention men & boys?”

    Pathetic.

    When will feminist man-haters realise that equality means EQUALITY – and not ‘selective equality’?

  7. Nynrah Ghost says:

    It is hypocrite to have the audacity to speak about ‘equality’ when you clearly demonstrate to only adress everything that concerns women (even if it has to be an imaginary or exagorated issue) and consistently ignore men as if they don’t even exist.

  8. How is this even acceptable? The hypocritical double standard you are advocating? You claim to be about equality and yet, men have have the foreskin of their penises cut off without their consent as small children.

  9. Manni Quinn says:

    I guess women more equal then men…

    How else do you explain your exclusive focus on the protection of girls?

    What about the medically entirely unjustifiable genital mutilation of boys?

    Are boys not deserving of the same protection?

    And please do not hide behind the same old lie that FGM is always worse than MGM. Even a symbolic pin-prick to a girls’ genital that removes no tissue at all is completely illegal, while it is perfectly fine before the law to amputate non-consenting baby boys’ most sensitive body part.

    Ethnic minorities who practice any of these barbaric rites should not be given any tolerance, at all.

    Equality? Ludicrous.

  10. Harriet Harms Man says:

    There’s a proposal in San Francisco to ban all genital mutilation of children regardless of gender.

    It’s a shame the UK is so backward in this area.

    Anyone know if the religious genital mutilation of children still paid for by the taxpayer here? I haven’t heard of it being stopped yet.

  11. Ken Armstrong says:

    It’s ludicrous that as an “equality minister” you’re only concerned with the mutilation of girls when far more boys in the UK are mutilated every year. Girls are protected under law from genital mutilation, but boys are given no such protection. How is that equal?

  12. Razael says:

    This is completely ridiculous on all grounds. You do not understand true equality values in both genders and are nothing more than a deceitful, lying little hypocrite if you refuse to claim mutilation on boys and favor girls. You have no such right to call yourself something of an equalist, whatsoever. Boys and irls are children; men and women are adults. Different genders still matter just as much as the other and to say it is not okay to mutilate female genitals and not stand for men is horrid. No, FGM is NOT worse than MGM so do not seek to hide behind bold-faced lies. Wake up, do real research and do not mindlessly take in heresay so carelessly. Do not even dare to call yourself an equalist until you actually know REAL facts.

  13. Harriet Harms Man says:

    Razael – some excellent points and thanks for contributing but lets give Lynne a chance to respond first before making accusations please. For all you know she’s probably been deceived herself on this issue rather than being guilty herself here.

  14. Razael says:

    I realize this, which is why I said “IF she refuses to claim mutilation on boys and favors girls”. I merely pointed out that she will be considered a “deceitful, lying little hypocrite” if she refuses to see fact. I understand your point, so no worry.

  15. Celtic Druid says:

    Male genital mutilation is not only legal in the UK, but it’s funded by taxpayers and profited handsomely from, whilst FGM is rightfully illegal and deemed socially abhorrent. Why the extreme hypocrisy and when will Lynne Featherstone advocate for the cessation of this state-sponsored sexual butchering of male children.

  16. Robert O'Hara says:

    Featherstone MUST answer to her double standars as far as genital mutilation is concerned. This is patently the worst case o hypocracy I have ever seen in my entire life. The fact that male genital mutilation goes on not even challenged is aborhrant.

  17. William Swaffer says:

    Lynne herself has probably been conditioned to view a male’s mutilated genitals to be ‘normal’. It is unfortunate that she, and other law makers around the world are of a generation where their fathers, brothers and sons were all butchered. And so the cycle continues.

  18. Keith Rutter says:

    As a genitally-mutilated man, 1946 vintage, I must protest at the lack of concern for boys in this country. FGM is illegal though it still happens, although nobody is ever prosecuted. Boys have no such protection in the UK, it is high time they had. Although very few boys are deprived of their foreskin nowadays, UNLESS they are Jewish or Muslim, protection is needed and the legislation could be enacted within a single Parliamentary year. It is unethical to modify the genitalia of non-consenting minors, as well as against their human rights. The NHS is in crisis, and offering MGM and the repairs needed, when amateur cutters botch the procedure, is just plain wrong. In 1984 when our son was born, we were asked by an NHS nurse, “Did we want him circumcised?” “No, we want him to leave here intact, if he wants it done when he’s 18, that’s up to him.” (He has not) Now that so much is known about the foreskin and its actions on sexual pleasure, and the damage caused by its removal, why haven’t we progressed past the ignorance of anatomy as it was understood hundreds and thousands of years ago.

  19. David Usher says:

    I’m a member of ForeskinRestoration.org, a forum representing thousands of cut and mutilated men which supports and helps, to non surgically restore what was taken from us as infants. We had no say in this mutilation There needs to be a recognition of non consensual foreskin removal and a greater understanding that this isn’t just a piece of useless and surplus skin, but a highly sensitive sexual organ in it’s own right. It also serves to keep the glans moist, sensitive and clean. There are a number of scare stories and myths associated with the male foreskin and if the public were more informed about this issue, the powers that be might be made to be more aware that mens sexual health should be equally, and fairly represented

  20. [...] Cameron, Lynne Featherstone, David Lammy, Bernard Hogan-Howe, others who have influence… when it comes to real action, [...]

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