In 2013 Coventry became the first authority in the UK to support a full council motion to condemn the practice of FGM.
The purpose of this strategic statement is to further demonstrate Coventry’s commitment to tackling FGM and ensuring that girls and women are protected from the short- and long-term harm caused by such practices.
Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for nonmedical reasons".
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an unacceptable and illegal practice, and an extreme violation of human rights. FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes a severe form of discrimination against women and girls. FGM has no religious foundations but is a deep-rooted cultural practice that differs between communities, ethnic groups and families.
FGM has no health benefits and is an extremely harmful practice that always carries devastating short and long-term health consequences for women and girls.
FGM is highly prevalent in 28 African countries, and in parts of the Middle East and South East Asia. With increased immigration the practice has spread globally including to Europe, North America and Australia. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women.
FGM is an illegal practice in the UK and has been since 1985 under the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act. This law was extended in the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 to address the practice of taking girls abroad to undergo FGM procedures and increased the maximum penalty from 5 to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPOs) offer a legal means to protect and safeguard victims of FGM. FGMPOs are granted by a court and are unique to each case. They contain conditions to protect a victim or potential victims of FGM. An order can be applied for by the person who has had or is at risk of FGM, a local authority or any person with the permission of the court (example: teacher or police).
A mandatory reporting duty for FGM requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police. The FGM duty came into force on 31 October 2015.
The FGM mandatory reporting duty is a legal duty provided for in the FGM Act 2003 (as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015). The legislation requires regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to make a report to the police where, in the course of their professional duties, they either:
Professionals also have a duty to report if they suspect anyone under 18 is at risk if FGM. If they think the risk is imminent, they should report to the police and social care as appropriate.
The reasons why female genital mutilations are performed vary from one region to another as well as over time and include a mix of sociocultural factors within families and communities. The most cited reasons are:
Short-term health implications can include:
Long-term implications for a girl or woman’s health and welfare can include:
In addition, there are also psycho-sexual, psychological and social consequences of FGM.
In Coventry, the FGM Steering Group continue to oversee and take forward a range of work to prevent and eradicate FGM. This means challenging the norms and ideas that perpetrate it, raising awareness of the dangers of the practice, and sending a strong message that FGM will not be tolerated.
To provide high quality services that are shaped around the needs of victims and survivors at all levels of risk and ensure that their voices are heard and responded to.
Coventry City Council and its partners are committed to improving awareness raising and understanding of FGM. Girls and women will be empowered to report, and professionals will be given the skills and confidence to support them. We will also focus on men in their roles as fathers, husbands, community and religious leaders who can play a pivotal role in changing attitudes and beliefs concerning the continuation of FGM.
There will be effective information sharing and referral pathways between key agencies. The safety of victims and survivors will remain central to all support and services offered; safeguarding procedures will be robustly implemented to ensure that girls and women are protected. Opportunities to identify FGM for instance, when a child is going on a holiday to a country of high prevalence or if a family/child leaves with no notice, should be maximised and appropriate safeguarding procedures followed. Interventions will be tailored to victims and survivors with a range of needs.
FMG is a crime; justice and positive outcomes for victims and survivors is a priority. There are a number of laws concerned with ending FGM including the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 and the mandatory reporting duty for FGM which requires regulated health, social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18 year olds to the police. Coventry will use FGM Protection Orders (FGMPO’s) to protect girls and women and raise awareness regarding how these can be used to safeguard individuals. We will develop effective referral pathways working effectively with but not exclusively with the police and health services to understand how the wider partnership can support activity to achieve justice and a reduction in this crime.
We have an FGM community-based service delivered locally by Coventry Haven Women’s Aid.
This service offers:
We all have a responsibility to make sure children and young people are safe from harm or abuse. If you have any suspicion, or information, suggesting a child is being harmed, it should not be ignored.
If there is no immediate danger or you need advice or information, you can call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 024 7678 8555.
Professionals can also complete the Multi-agency Referral Form.
Remember, if it's an emergency, dial 999.
It is important to understand that safeguarding is everyone's responsibility. If you have any suspicion, or information, suggesting an adult is being harmed, it should not be ignored.
If there is no immediate danger or you need advice or information, you can call Adult Social Care Direct on 024 7683 3003 or email [email protected].
Professionals can also complete the Adult Social Care Referral Form
Remember, if it's an emergency, dial 999.
The web app targeted at young people gives advice on how to get support and deal with FGM. It can also be used by people who want to find out more about Female Genital Mutilation and how it might affect them and others they may know.
Petals for Professionals is an online resource which explains the legal responsibilities of professionals and provides information on where to get further help and advice.