Women protesting during the International Day against female genital mutilation (Picture: Getty Images)
Some girls may be at greater risk of female genital mutilation over the next few months, a charity has warned.
The start of the school summer holidays at the end of July could see a spike in cases of FGM , with youngsters potentially being flown overseas to unwittingly undergo the illegal procedure.
The National FGM Centre has released advice for teachers to help them identify any potential victims of the harmful practice. It advises teachers to look out for any female pupil who is talking about having a ‘special procedure’ done this summer.
The National FGM Centre, which is run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, also suggests parents who are planning to have FGM carried out on their daughter may take them out of school during term time and could tell teachers they are going on an extended break.
The centre says teachers should be suspicious if children are being taken to countries with a high prevalence of FGM.
The worrying increase in cases of the harmful practice, which involves the cutting or removal of the external female genitals, is being referred to as ‘cutting season’.
Indications a child may be at risk
- Confiding she is going to have a ‘special procedure’, or attend a special occasion to ‘become a woman’.
- Talking about looking forward to a long holiday to a country where the practice is prevalent.
- Approach a teacher or another adult if she’s aware or suspects she’s at immediate risk.
- Telling her friends about FGM
The child’s parents may give the following clues
- Say they are taking their child out of the country for a prolonged period of time
- Ask permission to take their daughter out of school during term time.
- Talk about looking forward to a long holiday to a country where her relatives live and where the practice is prevalent.
- Mention they are going to a country with a high prevalence of FGM, especially during holiday periods.
The National FGM Centre offers training to professionals to protect girls at risk of the procedure, which has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Head of the National FGM Centre Leethen Bartholomew said: ‘Much more needs to be done to support survivors of FGM and protect girls who are at risk. ‘FGM is child abuse and no girl should ever have to live with the harmful physical and emotional consequences of this practice.
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