New lifeline offered to girls at risk of FGM

NSPCC opens a 24-hour service in an effort to eradicate genital mutilation

The first national helpline dedicated to helping girls threatened with female genital mutilation (FGM) is to be launched by the children's charity the NSPCC tomorrow.

The 24-hour service will foster understanding that FGM is child abuse, children's campaigners said; the phoneline becomes available just before the long summer holidays, when thousands of young girls are thought to be vulnerable, both abroad and in the UK.

Illegal in the UK since 1985, FGM, also known as "cutting", involves the genitals of women and girls being lacerated, often by unqualified people, in the belief that it will preserve virginity. It is practised in various cultures worldwide, but particularly in Africa; yet a recent European report warned that 30,000 women and girls were at risk in Britain – the highest number in Europe – with the UK also having the most women (nearly 66,000) who were victims of it.

John Cameron, head of the NSPCC helpline, said girls and their families were under tremendous pressure to have the procedure and the helpline would offer "anonymous advice and assistance for children, parents and others". He said: "Professionals who are worried – for instance, people who have a responsibility for children such as those running children's groups – might need advice, too."

Efua Dorkenoo, advocacy director of Equality Now, which has been campaigning against FGM, said: "It is about making FGM a child abuse issue. It is not enough to let community groups deal with it. People may not know where to go.

"Most FGM is done to girls aged about 10, some from four to seven, but there are older girls, too. The helpline is a single point of contact for everyone – children, parents and professionals."

Nimco Ali was taken out of the UK and underwent FGM in Somalia when she was just seven. Now 29, she is an anti-FGM campaigner and has trained NSPCC staff on how to handle calls; she expects "a lot of young women and survivors will come through, and professionals on the front line such as teachers, who maybe feel they are not getting the support from their heads.

"It has been a long time coming, but it's a turning point in the way we hope to prevent FGM from happening; and maybe getting that first prosecution as well."

The Independent on Sunday reported in January that the authorities were looking for legal alternatives, after failing to bring a single FGM prosecution in 25 years. In April, we also revealed that the police are now reviewing hundreds of historic cases.

Jane Ellison, the Conservative MP and chairwoman of the all-party FGM group, said: "The helpline is a fantastic initiative and its launch comes at a critical time, ahead of the long summer holidays when we know that at-risk girls are most likely to be taken abroad to be mutilated.

"I am particularly excited that this 24/7, dedicated helpline will offer advice and support to front-line professionals such as teachers; tackling FGM in the UK has been hampered by widespread ignorance of what it is, and what to do when it is suspected."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    SAP Project Manager

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star