Charity chief praises Lambeth’s approach to adressing FGM in the community


Sandra Horley spoke out on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM


By Ellie Pipe

Lambeth’s Gaia Centre is a pioneering force in the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), says the boss of a leading charity.

The council funded centre is run by the national domestic violence charity Refuge and runs courses which allow survivors of FGM to talk to peers in the community.

Speaking yesterday on the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge stressed that raising awareness is vital in stopping this barbaric practice.

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of human rights. It must be stamped out. Full stop,” said Ms Horley.

“Our team at Gaia are specially trained to support women who have experienced this horrific crime, and we work closely with other partners in the borough to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal: eradicating this form of violence.”

FGM is defined by the World Health Organisation definition (WHO) as “all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to this harmful procedure according to WHO figures and the UN states 3 million girls, mostly under 15, are at risk every year.

Although particularly prevalent in African and Middle Eastern countries where it is steeped in tradition, the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD) estimates that as many as 6,500 girls are at risk within the UK every year.

Ms Horley praised Lambeth Council’s commitment to addressing FGM in their community.

“I would urge other councils across the country to do the same and invest in specialist services that support victims of all forms of violence and abuse,” she said.

UK government ministers yesterday signed a declaration to stop the practice of FGM and a consortium of anti-FGM campaigners have been appointed to deliver a global campaign to end the practice.

New measures include a mandatory requirement for NHS acute hospitals to provide information on patients who have undergone FGM and the launch of a new £100,000 FGM Community Engagement Initiative.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “I am determined we do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice. The law in this country applies to absolutely everyone and political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing, uncovering and prosecuting those who instigate and carry out FGM.”

To sign the petition to end FGM in the UK click here:

Photo courtesy of Julian Nieman, with thanks.

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