Britain plans new measures to prevent female genital mutilation

by Reuters
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 10:34 GMT
"I'll make reporting FGM mandatory for doctors, teachers and social workers..." British prime minister David Cameron said on Twitter

LONDON, July 22 (Reuters) - Britain is to make it compulsory for teachers and health workers to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM), Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday.

The government, which is hosting a London summit on FGM and forced marriage, will also announce a range of other measures aimed at bringing an end to both practices in Britain and abroad, Cameron's office said in a statement.

This will include 1.4 million pounds ($2.4 million) of funding for an FGM prevention programme in Britain, new laws that would see parents prosecuted if they fail to prevent their daughter undergoing FGM, and programmes to prevent child and forced marriage in 12 developing countries.

"I'll make reporting FGM mandatory for doctors, teachers and social workers. Let's end this abhorrent practice once and for all," Cameron said on Twitter.

FGM, the partial or total removal of external female genitalia, is a tradition practised widely in African and many Muslim countries and often justified as a means of suppressing a woman's sexual desire to prevent "immoral" behaviour.

Around 103,000 women aged between 15 and 49, and another 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are estimated to have undergone FGM, according to a report on Tuesday from City University London.

Britain also plans an international charter calling for the eradication of FGM and forced marriage within a generation, and the government said Tuesday's summit, being attended by 500 delegates from 50 countries, would aim to secure new commitments from the private sector, faith leaders and governments.

FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985 but new legislation in 2003 introduced a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The 2003 act also made it an offence for British citizens to carry out or procure FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal.

Earlier this year a doctor became one of two men to face trial in the UK's first prosecution for FGM. (Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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