On 3 July a parliamentary committee reported that “Female genital mutilation is an ongoing national scandal which is likely to have resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care”.
There has long been law against doctors and parents who are party to mutilation of young girls’ genitals. But the committee still found a “growing prevalence of FGM”.
Its recommendations include:
• Failure to report female genital mutilation should be made a criminal offence if reporting of the practice does not increase in the next 12 months
• Headteachers and child protection officers to have compulsory safeguarding training
• Better services to support victims.
Efua Dorkenoo of the End FGM campaign said: “I would have liked for them to make the failure of professionals to report FGM a crime” straight off.
The MPs were doubtful about recommending regular medical checks on FGM.
A doctors’ and nurses’ report in 2013 found that “the strong taboo associated with the practice and the cultural sensitivities involved in speaking out against it” had led to FGM continuing, with “23,000 girls under the age of 15 at risk” and the number increasing.
On this issue, girls’ rights should override hesitations based on “cultural relativism”.