Female Genital Mutilation: Teachers told to 'check holiday plans' of children at risk of FGM
Tens of thousands of girls in the UK are at risk or have already had an operation
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Wednesday 16 April 2014
Teachers and schools should check on the holiday arrangements of pupils from communities which practice female genital mutilation (FGM), a conference was told.
Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference became the first teachers to discuss the issue at a national conference yesterday when they called on the Home Office to draw up a national strategy for eradicating the practice in the UK.
Helen Porter, from Berkshire, moving the motion, told the conference it was estimated 66,000 women resident in England and Wales had undergone the process and over 23,000 girls under the age of 15 were at risk or had already undergone FGM.
“As education staff, we need to raise awareness and encourage young women and women to question FGM,“ said Ms Porter. ”We need to help reposition FGM in terms of violence against women and girls not cultural practice.
“Schools and education staff can help by opening discussion with parents and scrutinising holiday requests and summer holiday plans from members of communities that practice FGM.
”They should be vigilant for the signs of FGM such as frequent toilet visits and pain whilst sitting down.“
In particular, she said teachers should persuade boys to challenge the practice. ”Do they want this for their sisters, daughters, girlfriends or wives?“ she asked.
Experts have predicted children are in more danger of having FGM carried out in the summer holidays - when they can go abroad to have it carried and have more time to recover from the after effects before mixing with people at school.
Niamh Sweeney, from Cambridgeshire, added: ”FGM is the violent, brutal and systematic abuse of young girls and should be treated as such in every section of a fair and just society.
“But young child victims are unlikely to come forward due to the stigma attached to such violent crime. It is vital that peers, brothers, uncles, fathers, mothers, other family members and anyone else is aware and knows what to do should they suspect and discover it.”
She said it was “a scandal” that campaigners had to rely on TV programmes such as “Law and Order UK” and “Casualty” for highlighting the issue when it needed “joined up thinking” from government departments to draw up a strategy to combat it.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said scrutinising holiday arrangements was “just one of a number of suggestions” for tackling the issue.
“There will be a whole range of issues that we need to think about - what do teachers need to know and what can teachers do,” she said. “There needs to be a clear system for them to report their concerns.”
She praised Education Secretary Michael Gove who has written to all headteachers stressing the fact that FGM is a safeguarding issue and they should be on the alert to look out for signs it may be about to happen to some pupils in their schools.
Yesterday's motion, which was carried unanimously, called on teachers to campaign to raise awareness of the issue in schools.
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more