Education key to tackling high rates of female genital mutilation in Lambeth, says council


Research shows the number of victims of the practice is high across the borough.


By Seema Hakim

Lambeth has the third highest percentage of victims in London who are suffering from female genital mutilation (FGM), according to proxy measurements.

Research carried out by Safer Lambeth Partnership as part of their Violence against Women and Girls Strategy shows the number of victims of the practice, which has been estimated by the percentage of women in maternity with genital mutilation, is extremely high.

To tackle the issue, the council has introduced half day courses to assist students to recognise when someone is at risk, and to suggest appropriate measures that should be taken to prevent a case as and when it arises.

Schools across South West London are also working to address the problem. In Kennington, Lillian BaylisTechnology School has been holding workshops for students aged between 11 and 14. They have also worked with model Waris Dirie who experienced FGM as a child to produce a film which draws attention to the dangers of the practice.

Cabinet member for Children and Families, Rachel Heywood, said the issue was complex but was being addressed through training and school programmes.

“It is important to provide tough and targeted education for women who have been victims themselves, as it is often mothers who arrange the procedure for their daughters,” she said.

“It’s only just now we’re beginning to understand its prevalence and we are developing responses to enable us to address the issue and bring this cruel practice to an end.”

The risk of FGM comes in light of recent statistics showing that 65,670 British females have experienced the practice, with girls aged between four and 15 at the greatest risk.

According to Forward (Foundation for Women’s Health and Research), in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 30,000 women are at risk of FGM, with 6,500 in London alone.

The British government has pledged £35 million in order to help eliminate the tradition, with the target of reducing it by 30 percent in five years. 

Photo courtesy of StopFgmNow2010 via YouTube, with thanks. 

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