Today the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was launched at a meeting in Parliament. Battersea MP Jane Ellison was elected as the Chairman.
The new Group, made up of over 50 MPs and Peers from all the main political parties, has been formed to raise awareness of FGM in the UK and overseas and to work with the Government and NGOs towards eradicating the harmful practice. The Group was addressed by Efua Dorkenoo OBE, Advocacy Director and expert on FGM from the charity Equality Now, who highlighted the main challenges that are faced in tackling the issue. There was a lively debate on what MPs and Peers could do in Parliament and in their constituencies.
Speaking after the meeting, Jane said, "It is a privilege to be the Chairman of this new Group and I look forward to working with the Vice-Chairman, Valerie Vaz MP, and other colleagues to make some headway towards eradicating FGM.
"FGM is usually performed on minors and is recognised by the UN as a serious human rights violation, both here and overseas. The strong support that this new Group has received reflects the desire in Parliament for progress to be made on this issue. It was particularly encouraging to receive a statement of support for the new Group from Lynne Featherstone MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, who has FGM in her portfolio. I look forward to working with her and other Government Departments on this important issue.
"Research based on 2001 figures indicated that around 20,000 girls in the UK are living at risk of having FGM committed against them and 66,000 girls and women are already living with the consequences. These are outdated figures and we have good reason to think that the problem might now be a lot bigger, especially in London. The Group will be encouraging the Government to support a new study to assess the scale of the problem."
For more information about FGM:
Message of support for the APPG from Lynne Featherstone MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Equalities
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
"May I start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) and the hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) for forming this All-Party Parliamentary Group on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
"The launch of the APPG today demonstrates the importance of tackling this unacceptable and heinous form of abuse. I commend my honourable friends in taking a unified approach to both ensure that FGM remains on the political agenda and that girls and women are protected against this human rights abuse. I, like you, continue to work in my role as Minister for Equalities to eradicate FGM and I look forward to working with the APPG in making this goal a reality.
"We, as a Government, remain committed to this work and our focus is prevention. In February this year we launched multi-agency practice guidelines for front-line professionals such as teachers, GPs and nurses to raise awareness of FGM, highlight the risks that people should be aware of and set out clearly the steps that should be taken to safeguard children and women from this abuse. We have also launched an FGM fund to support organisations that provide real frontline support to women and girls. I am very pleased that we were able to recently increase the fund from £25,000 to £50,000 in order to support more organisations and increase the incredible community engagement work being undertaking up and down the county daily, in the delivery of key preventative work.
"As a Government I hope we will continue to work together and this APPG will strengthen that link between us. I look forward to supporting this group and hope this is a further step forward in our united goal."