Mayor brings thousands together in fight against honour-based crime
More than 2,300 Londoners in the capital’s most vulnerable communities have been educated and protected from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), as part of the Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s work to eradicate honour-based crimes across the city.
Today, the Mayor welcomed the great strides in this area thanks to almost £800,000 investment in two innovative pilots which launched last year. Around 137,000 women and girls in the UK have been victims of FGM, with a further 60,000 girls under 15 at risk1. These pioneering initiatives reach out to women in maternity units, as well as young boys and fathers, and have trained hundreds of frontline workers to spot the signs of honour-based crime and help thousands of potential victims.
FGM is a form of violence against women and girls tied to ideas around gender, honour and controlling women’s sexuality. Often the only time an FGM victim comes to the attention of healthcare practitioners is many years later when they come to have a baby themselves. This new approach is ensuring many more pregnant women who have been victimised in the past are identified and offered help during maternity care to prevent their daughters and unborn children being subjected to the same harmful practice in future. To date, more than 170 women in five London boroughs have been treated in this way, with more than 70 families receiving social care assessments to prevent young girls being cut in future.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “I want every young Londoner to be born into a society that simply won’t tolerate this kind of violence against women. While there is still more work to be done, we have made great strides in recent years in raising the profile of this world-wide problem. By engaging with the women and girls most at risk from these practices, and challenging young men and boys to take a stand, these ground-breaking initiatives are helping to eradicate honour-based crimes from our city.”
Today, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, joined teenage boys at Marylebone Boys’ School in an FGM awareness session. He said: “The Mayor has committed to tackling and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in the capital and, as we continue to be a global leader in this fight, the Mayor wants to see a safer London for women and children. These two innovative pilots have shown how important and effective collaborative work across the whole community is in raising awareness and ending Female Genital Mutilation and other abhorrent practices that not only have an impact on girls and women’s lives, but families, communities and society.”
Co-ordinated by MOPAC and funded with £560,000 from the Department for Education, the FGM prevention pilot teamed up specialist social workers with midwives and therapists for the first time to offer psychological support for women who have undergone FGM as well as protecting their daughters from being cut in future. As part of this holistic approach to combat FGM, influential community advocates engaged with over 2,300 people. Special awareness sessions with boys and fathers ensure all family members are united against FGM. The year-long pilot in Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets comes to a close at the end of this month.
This work is part of the Mayor’s wider two year £239,000 Harmful Practices scheme, under which hundreds of frontline professionals, including social workers and police officers, are being trained to spot the signs of FGM, faith-based abuse, forced marriage and ‘honour’-based violence and spread the learning in their respective organisations. Until now this kind of training has only been available to healthcare professionals.
Danny Chalkley, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Westminster City Council, said: “There is no reason why young girls should undergo FGM – a crime that is both traumatic and causes irreversible physical damage.
“The council’s priority is to protect children and a young people, including from FGM. Thanks to support from MOPAC we have been able to work with young people across the city, including young men, to raise awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM. At the same time we are running a number of other projects with colleagues from other central London boroughs, including a pilot at maternity clinics in St Mary’s and Queen Charlotte’s hospitals, where specialist FGM midwives work with pregnant women affected by FGM to prevent their daughters from being subjected to the same.”
Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Cabinet Member for Family and Children Services, said: “FGM is painful, traumatic and deeply harmful. We are committed to helping girls affected or threated by this terrible practice and together with neighbours and MOPAC have helped dozens of girls during this trial. The project was designed by Council officers and representatives from the local community to be both sensitive and effective in supporting mothers and their children.”
 Tackling FGM: https://fowarduk.org.uk
Notes to editors
1. The FGM prevention pilot has been supported with a grant of £557,497 from the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.
2. In 2011, the Mayor commissioned a study examining harmful practices (HP) in London to improve knowledge on the needs of black and minority ethnic (BME) women experiencing HP. As a result, the Mayor established a Harmful Practices (HP) Taskforce to confront FGM and other harmful practices including forced marriages, so-called witchcraft killings and ‘honour’ crimes.
3. The Harmful Practices Taskforce has developed the Harmful Practices pilot, which the FGM prevention pilot forms part of, and is running for two years in five boroughs in London and is being conducted by a consortium of agencies including: Asian Women’s Resource Centre; Latin American Women’s Right Centre; Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation; Asiana; Imece. All of which are specialist women’s organisations expertly capable of delivering training and advocacy with regard to Female Genital Mutilation, Forced marriage, ‘Honour’-based violence and faith-based abuse.
4. MOPAC also held a conference last month on preventing FGM and providing professionals from different sectors with an opportunity to learn from the FGM prevention pilot with a focus on forming effective partnerships to combat harmful practices.
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