Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, a timely reminder of why we must keep this form of child abuse firmly on our safeguarding radar in educational settings.
FGM is a human rights issue, affecting girls and women worldwide. Despite UK legislative protections within the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act (1985), the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003) and protection orders as part of the Serious Crime Act (2015), girls still remain at risk.
Regardless of the justifications given for this practice such as preservation of virginity, custom, tradition, family honour, hygiene or mistaken belief that the practice is a religious requirement; FGM is child abuse which can lead to lifelong physical and psychological suffering.
Let's be clear, no woman and girl should be subject to the risks FGM procedures present. No child should be exposed to the risks of:
or the many long-term physiological, sexual and psychological effects, some of which include:
So here's a reminder of some of the key safeguarding factors to look out for which may increase vulnerability and / or signal a child is at risk:
Whilst it is essential we focus on preventative measures, we must also crucially safeguard victims of FGM. Although not in themselves clear single indicators of FGM, there are symptoms which can collectively present that may indicate a girl has been abused in this way. So be alert if a girl:
By keeping FGM awareness on the safeguarding radar we can all fulfil our duty of care to protect vulnerable girls and safeguard victims.
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