Image of FGM: Is Your School Compliant?

FGM: Is Your School Compliant?

Saturday 6th February was the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is an annual day created to raise awareness of the issue, educate the public, and drive solutions.

FGM is a serious issue that affects women, girls, and communities all over the world, including the UK. Teachers and school leaders play an integral part in safeguarding young girls as well as helping victims who have undergone FGM.

What is FGM?

FGM is any procedure that alters the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, include, cutting, sewing shut, or removing parts. It is a globally recognised violation of female human rights and often leaves victims with serious short- and long-term physical and psychological injuries.

Though it is practised by people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, it is not recognised by any specific culture of religion.

FGM and COVID-19

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue, according to the United Nations (UN), who predicts an extra two million cases will take place over the next ten years.

The organisation reported: “In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively and disproportionately affected girls and women, resulting in a shadow pandemic disrupting SDG [sustainable development goals] target 5.3 on the elimination of all harmful practices including, female genital mutilation.”

In the UK, the NHS reported it treated 6,590 women and girls for FGM from April 2019 to March 2020. In Europe alone, it is estimated that over 600,000 women are living with the consequences of FGM.

What do schools need to know about FGM?

FGM was made illegal in England and Wales under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. All teachers have a statutory duty under Section 5B to report to the police where they discover FGM may have taken place on a girl under the age of 18. The discovery can be either through a disclosure or visual evidence. Failure to report cases may lead to disciplinary sanctions.

Our Certificate in Understanding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been designed to help teachers and school leaders understand exactly what FGM is, recognise the signs, and identify the risks involved. It is presented by international safeguarding expert and former police officer, Robin Watts, and is aligned with the following statutes:

  • Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
  • Serious Crime Acts 2015
  • The Children Act 1989
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020