Charity’s helpline contacted on average once a day about FGM
79 FGM Protection Orders obtained by UK courts
Voices over Silence project raises awareness of FGM in Wales
The NSPCC is contacted, on average, more than once a day by people worried about girls who may have suffered or at risk of female genital mutilation, according to new figures.
Since the NSPCC’s FGM Helpline was launched in June 2013, it has been contacted more than 1,500 times, with around a third of concerns serious enough to be referred to police or social services.1
Worried callers have included those contacting the helpline with fears for babies who they believed were at risk of FGM.
The practice is believed to affect around 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales.
In Wales, NSPCC Cymru joined with the Welsh Government and anti-abuse charity BAWSO to create Voices over Silence – a project aimed at increasing awareness of FGM in Wales. Posters, leaflets and a film featuring victims of the practice were rolled out in communities and schools across Wales last year.
FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK for 30 years, and in 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation. Despite this, there is yet to be a successful prosecution for the offence.
Since July 2015 anyone in Wales and England may seek an FGM Protection Order to protect a potential victim. Ministry of Justice figures show that, between July 2015 and September 2016, there have been 97 applications made for Protection Orders across England and Wales, with 79 resulting in Orders being obtained.2
Data obtained by the NSPCC shows that, in addition to applications from professionals, a significant proportion are from the person themselves or a family member, friend or community member.
While some Family Courts have issued several Protection Orders, many have so far issued none despite the volume of calls to the NSPCC helpline indicating a widespread concern about the illegal practice.
One doctor told the NSPCC helpline: “I have suspicions in relation to a child that I think may have been flown out of the country for the FGM procedure. The child was brought into my surgery today but the parent wouldn’t allow me to perform an internal examination on the child. The parent was adamant that the child would be checked abroad instead.”
A teacher told the NSPCC helpline: “A child at school will be flying out to Africa soon with their parents. When I asked the parents casually about why they are going, the parents appeared reluctant and nervous to answer. Something doesn’t feel right about this.”
The charity is calling for discussion about FGM to be part of age appropriate Sex and Relationship Education in all schools to ensure girls and boys can recognise the practice as abuse and get help to prevent it.
John Cameron, Head of NSPCC Helplines, said: “We know from calls to our dedicated helpline that female genital mutilation is still affecting hundreds of girls in the UK and we are urging young people, and any adults worried about them, to speak out and get help.
“Some families who subject their children to female genital mutilation may do so because of cultural norms or that they believe it will help their child improve their life. It’s vital that everyone realises FGM serves no purpose, and leaves long lasting physical and emotional scars on the victims.
“For far too long female genital cutting has been cloaked in secrecy so we need more people in communities to join forces to ensure this dangerous practice is ended. This is child abuse and it is against the law. It has no place in any society.”
Anyone who is concerned that a child is at risk of or has experienced FGM can speak to an NSPCC FGM helpline advisors on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org so that appropriate action can be taken. More information can be found online at www.nspcc.org.uk/fgm
Children can call Childline at any time on 0800 1111. If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, dial the emergency services on 999.
For more information please call the media office on 02920 108159 or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
1. There were 1,564 contacts to the NSPCC Helpline on FGM between June 2013 – January 2017. Spread over 1,317 days, the number of contacts is average to more than one a day. The helpline has made 490 referrals to external agencies.
2. In total, 97 applications were made to courts to obtain a FGMPO according to latest Government figures, with 79 being obtained. Figures relevant until September 2016.
An NSPCC FOI request asked for the number of FGM Protection Order applications by court, July 2015 – June 2016 inclusive, England and Wales only. The Ministry of Justice declined to provide the full breakdown of FGMPO applications, by location, applicant and number, where figures of less than five could potentially lead to identification of the individuals concerned. All courts listed below granted orders. A separate Freedom of Information Request to the Northern Ireland Courts & Tribunals Service found that no orders were issued in Northern Ireland.
FGMPOs made by court, July 2015 – June 2016 inclusive, England and Wales.
EAST LONDON FAMILY
High Court Family
NEWCASTLE ON TYNE COUNTY
WEST LONDON FAMILY
FGMPO applications by type of applicant
PTBP (Person to be Protected)/applicant in person
Relevant Third Party (leave not required)
Third Party: family
Third Party: friend/community
Third Party: Official Solicitor/Next Friend/Guardian ad litem
Third Party: Police
Third Party: voluntary sector
* Please note figures of fewer than five have not been provided.
** Two more orders were obtained after the NSPCC’s FOI results were returned.
Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) offer a legal means to protect and safeguard victims and potential victims of FGM. FGMPOs are granted by a court and are unique to each case. They contain conditions, such as confiscating a passport, to protect a victim or potential victim from FGM. They came into effect on 17 July 2015, and applications are made to family courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. FGM Protection Orders do not exist in Scotland, although FGM is a criminal offence there even if mutilation takes place abroad. A breach of an order can result in a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
FGM is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given, including the aim of controlling female sexuality, but it is dangerous, illegal and a form of child abuse – and often goes unreported. The procedure is often carried out outside the UK. www.nspcc.org.uk/fgm
There are an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM. .Source: Macfarlane, A. and Dorkenoo, E. (2015) Prevalence of female genital mutilation in England and Wales: national and local estimates (PDF).
About the NSPCC
The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. Using voluntary donations, which make up more than 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening. So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.
Our Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk
Our free helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 800 5000, by texting 88858 or visiting www.nspcc.org.uk
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