Thousands of girls in danger of genital mutilation are being failed by the health and justice systems, a coalition of health professionals has warned in a report that recommends aggressive steps to eradicate the practice in the UK.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) should be treated the same as any other kind of child abuse and evidence of it must be reported to the police, according to the report.
Janet Fyle, a policy adviser of the Royal College of Midwives and one of the report’s authors, said that just as it was inconceivable that a health worker would not report evidence of child abuse to the police, it should be equally important to report evidence of FGM.
Imagine someone just carving up a little girl’s genitalia for the hell of it, then imagine FGM, then try to see what the difference is. There isn’t any.
The report clearly emphasises the importance of an individual’s safety over the respect for religious and racial sensibilities, a point welcomed by Shaista Gohir, the chairwoman of the Muslim Women’s Network.
“We need to be mindful of cultural and religious sensibilities but safeguarding the child from FGM has to be the priority. If a child is at risk it is better to protect them rather than religious and cultural feelings,” she said.
Cultural and religious sensibilities that require mutilating children are not worth having or respecting or treating deferentially.