Islington leading the charge on eliminating Female Genital Mutilation

FGM Pic: Julien Behal/PAto

FGM Pic: Julien Behal/PAto - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Islington will be eliminated within a generation, if a borough wide offensive is successful.

Leyla Hussain

Leyla Hussain - Credit: Archant

The pledge was made by Islington Council’s executive member for community safety Cllr Paul Convery at a zero-tolerance breakfast with FGM survivors, councillors, police, health workers, social care workers, education professionals, volunteers and members of the public last week.

The forum became a platform for discussion on the barbaric practice, which threatens almost 2,000 young girls in the borough, with 1,300 thought to be at serious risk.

The discussion involved getting the message to children in schools and making it easier to prosecute those carrying out FGM.

There was also a Q and A session with survivor and campaigner Leyla Hussain, whose harrowing documentary on FGM, The Cruel Cut, was shown at the beginning of the meeting.

Cllr Convery said: “We’re hoping to make a really significant change within several years, I’m actually expecting most of this change of behaviour in the next several years.

“The message is to families in particular that they shouldn’t be allowing there daughters to treated like this, they shouldn’t be taking them abroad for this sort of abuse, they will be found out in due course.

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“We’re also saying to young girls that we hope they will have the confidence to stand up to their elders and resist.

“We want schools to help spread the message and get communities, especially the Somali community, to talk openly about it.”

The Whittington Hospital sees about 140 cases of FGM each year, 10 per cent of which are type three – the severest form which requires reversals, or deinfibulation.

Most of the cases are discovered when women are married or get pregnant and are having problems with sex and giving birth.

Joy Clarke, a specialist midwife at the hospital who carries out the reversals, said: “The number of cases we are encountering is rising because of the way we ask the questions to women we see.

“They’re also feeling more confident to speak out and we’re starting to see women come forward before they get married.”

Ms Clarke also speaks to communities at workshops set up by Holloway based charity Manor Gardens.

As well as the workshops, the charity is also involved in training teachers in both primary and secondary schools and runs a pilot support group alongside Leyla Hussain for survivors of FGM.

Specialist speakers are already going in to Islington schools to work with children on FGM and the council are hoping to make it a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Leyla Hussain’s must see documentary The Cruel Cut is available to watch at