Fathers with daughters at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) are being targeted in London under a new scheme to prevent cases of FGM in the capital.
The Mayor’s office for policing and crime has launched an £800,000 initiative to tackle FGM, honour-based crimes and forced marriage, which will be piloted in the London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, said:
“There is no place for practices like this in our society. We are determined to identify and prosecute those responsible, protect women and girls who are at risk – and support the recovery of those affected.
“This programme is the first of its kind in the UK – and it is only by working with communities that we can challenge the acceptance of these harmful practices and encourage men and women to speak out.”
London newspaper the Evening Standard reports that £500,000 in funding for tackling FGM will come from the Department for Education (DfE).
The Children’s and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:
“All women and girls have a basic right to live their life free from violence, including the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation.
“This project will see health and social work professionals work more closely together, to better identify and support women and girls at risk of this barbaric practice.”
Under the new FGM prevention scheme, a male support worker will be employed to address the issues surrounding FGM with fathers and faith leaders in the capital.
Skilled social workers will also be linked to FGM clinics at London hospitals so that women and girls at risk can be identified.
The scheme will also employ community mediators to trace and talk to “hard-to-reach” families about FGM.
Victims of FGM will also be given psychological support to help them cope with the trauma of female genital mutilation.
A campaigner against FGM, Leyla Hussein – who works for the Health Advocacy Project in Manor Gardens, Islington, north London – said that men were the “key people” to speak to about FGM because the practice was carried out for them.
“I welcome this project,” Ms Hussein said.
“I am sick and tired of people saying it is the mother’s choice. This is a patriarchal society and the man is at the top – and he needs to speak up.”
The Health Advocacy Project has recently employed four male workers to speak to men about FGM, Ms Hussein added.
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