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Community campaigns praised for transforming attitudes to FGM

10 July 2016

Local funding is key to government ambitions to end Female Genital Mutilation in the UK and the future health of thousands of young British girls and women, states a landmark report by the Tackling FGM  Initiative (TFGMI) launched today.

The £2.8 million initiative hails the success of community-led approaches to prevent FGM and support local agencies but says that lack of local investment is a major threat to the health of women and girls in affected communities and the Government’s bid to end FGM in the UK.

The report details how community based organisations have:

  • Transformed attitudes amongst many affected communities, with particular success amongst young people and young mothers, by identifying community champions, creating ‘safe places’ for discussion and developing best practice approaches for tackling FGM
  • Successfully trained more than 6,000 professionals – including teachers (52% of total trained), child health workers (13%), social workers (7%) and GPs (5%) - with statutory responsibility to safeguard women
  • Worked alongside local safeguarding agencies to deliver access communities, develop local area guidance and improve integration of FGM into child protection policies and won praise for their contribution

“I find my experiences with FGM really difficult to talk about even now …sometimes I find my voice and I speak, but I just like to be there so that people know that it’s real and it’s happening”. FGM Survivor and Champion

We have been funding anti-FGM work since 2008 and this evaluation report marks the end of a six year programme, working in almost 20 local authority areas, to chart and develop community-led interventions to tackle FGM across the UK. The initiative is a partnership with Rosa - the UK Fund for Women and Girls, Trust for London,  Comic Relief, and Kering Corporate Foundation. You can read more about the work of the TFGMI here.

The report, the second and last of two evaluation reports produced by TFGMI since 2010, says: “There is good evidence that the community based approach has worked with a range of audiences within communities affected by FGM and has started to create a critical mass of people who are opposed to the practice.”

However it adds: “The major barrier to the future of the ending FGM campaign is still funding. Even in areas where local authorities, public health colleagues, police and others highly valued FGMI-partners, when asked about future funding intentions it was not evident that funding needs had even been considered.

“This may be because of the lack of clarity on where FGM ‘sits’ and who should be funding (local authorities, Health and Well-being Boards, public health or clinical commissioning groups), as well as the impact of the cuts of local budgets.”

It says that lack of training and availability of specialist social workers – even in areas believed to have high prevalence of FGM – is of concern to many community organisations and warns that the role of community groups in promoting broader understanding of child protection is still often under estimated and could lead to heavy handed responses by frontline professionals.

Find out more about how we are supporting women in the UK.

An overview of the report is available here.

The TFGMI have also launched a best practice guide which aims to strengthen community-based prevention of FGM among affected communities in the UK.

For media enquiries or interview requests please contact Jon Flinn on 07811 397122.