Hun­dreds are ‘at risk’ of FGM

‘Aware­ness needs to be spread to girls’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­

HUN­DREDS of young girls in Hilling­don are at risk of be­com­ing vic­tims of fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion (FGM), ac­cord­ing to char­ity ex­perts.

The Dary­eel Foun­da­tion and the West Lon­don So­ma­liland Com­mu­nity (WLSC) say 40 per cent of the bor­ough’s res­i­dents come from eth­nic mi­nor­ity back­grounds, in­clud­ing a ‘large ma­jor­ity’ hail­ing from coun­tries and states where FGM is more com­mon­place, such as So­ma­lia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from both or­gan­i­sa­tions spoke out against the prac­tice on Fri­day, as the United Na­tions ob­served its In­ter­na­tional Day of Zero Tol­er­ance for FGM.

Id Muse, direc­tor of WLSC, said it was im­pos­si­ble to know how many young girls were be­ing taken abroad from Hilling­don for what is also some­times known as ‘cut­ting’, but he es­ti­mated that ‘hun­dreds’ were po­ten­tial vic­tims.

Mr Muse said aware­ness needed to be spread among schools, chil­dren’s cen­tres, GPs and in­di­vid­u­als through­out the bor­ough in or­der to end tol­er­ance for FGM, which com­prises all pro­ce­dures that in­volve al­ter­ing or in­jur­ing the fe­male gen­i­talia for non­med­i­cal rea­sons and is recog­nised in­ter­na­tion­ally as a vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

Marso Abdi, FGM change agent and fa­cil­i­ta­tor for the Dary­eel Foun­da­tion, said she had spo­ken to at least one GP in Hilling­don who had never heard of FGM.

She added: “Peo­ple who live in west Lon­don, es­pe­cially in Hilling­don, don’t have aware­ness, and they don’t know where to go for in­for­ma­tion.”

On Jan­uary 28 politi­cians, ed­u­ca­tion staff, health work­ers and mem­bers of the public came to­gether in Hayes to dis­cuss ways of end­ing the prac­tice, both lo­cally and na­tion­ally.

The event, held at the Old Vinyl Fac­tory, in Blyth Road, was or­gan­ised by the Dary­eel Foun­da­tion and WLSC, in part­ner­ship with the Eve­lyn Old­field Unit, a Lon­don-based sup­port group. Those at­tend­ing com­piled a list of 25 ac­tion points de­signed to help tackle the prob­lem.

Th­ese in­cluded ed­u­cat­ing GPs, moth­ers, men and imams, po­ten­tially through classes held across the bor­ough and im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween rel­e­vant agen­cies.

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