Female Genital Mutilation Reporting Duty to Come into Force


In a bid to expose and end female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK a new law will come into force from the end of this month (October 31st) imposing a duty on professionals to report cases of FGM.

Female Genital Mutilation Reporting Duty to Come into Force
All individuals working in health and social care and teachers in England and Wales will be required to report any "visually confirmed" or "verbally disclosed" FGM cases in under-18s. Professionals who fail to do so could face losing their jobs as a consequence.

FGM a Form of Domestic Violence

FGM most commonly takes place when a girl is between the ages of 5 and 8, and around 23,000 girls under the age of 15 could be at risk in the UK according to the NSPCC website. FGM is a form of domestic violence; it is often forced upon children after being arranged by their parents and exposes them to both physical and psychological harm.

Jenine Abdo, our Family Law Solicitor, works with Cardiff Women's Aid and Butetown Communities First in Cardiff to provide more accessible support to women and girls in need of help. Jenine understands the need for more to be done to prevent FGM:

"Unfortunately, these young girls are encouraged and forced to partake in FGM by their family members. However sadly, these practices are not cultural or religious despite popular belief. Family members who should be safeguarding and protecting these vulnerable women are not carrying out their roles and responsibilities properly, which means the only other option is for parties like doctors, nurses, school teachers and other professionals to raise the issue. It is fundamental that they report that a young girl is at risk of FGM as making those aware of the legal consequences could save the girl's life."

Our Family Law team work with victims of FGM and domestic violence. Carol Chrisfield, an Associate based in our Bristol office, explains an available recourse for those at risk:

"If you are aware of someone that could be at risk there are steps which can be taken in an effort to protect a child. A female genital mutilation protection order (FGMPO) is a type of injunction to prevent the FGM taking place. The person at risk or a concerned friend or relative can request an FGMPO."

Hopes that the Duty to Report Will Prevent Abuse

It is hoped that the new duty will mark a change in tackling FGM as it may see more referrals to the police. FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985, but as of yet there have been no successful prosecutions.

Head of the National FGM Centre, Celia Jeffreys, believes that; "Mandatory reporting is one element in driving cultural change, but the key to addressing the problem is supporting communities to change their approaches to FGM."

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