FGM and Young People Alexis Wright Devon and Cornwall Police
What is FGM? The terms “female genital mutilation“ refer to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. World Health Organisation 2008
Types of FGM • Type 1: Clitoridectomy: - partial or total removal of the clitoris. • Type 2: Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and labia minora with or without excision of the labia majora. • Type 3: Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris. • Type 4: Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area.
Types of FGM and Terminology • FGM – describes the gravity and harm of the act. It is an advocacy term, used in legal documents including laws but may be viewed as negative. • Female Circumcision – inaccurate but widely used. • FGC – seen as a compromise and non-judgemental – used primarily by US agencies • Sunnah – increasingly used by communities as more acceptable form of FGM
Harmful Effects • Severe pain and shock • Emotional and psychological distress • Sexual dysfunction • Infections • Pregnancy complications • Haemorrhaging • Injury to other organs • Fistula • Death
Why is it done? • It brings status and respect to girl • It’s a custom – this is what we do • It preserves virginity. • Its more pleasurable for the man • It cleanses and purifies the girl • Its more hygienic • It prepares the girl for marriage • Its safer for child birth • It brings the girls family honour
Myths • If a woman does not undergo FGM she will become infertile • If the clitoris is not cut it will continue to grow long and become a penis • If the clitoris is not cut it will harm the baby during child birth • A woman who has not undergone FGM will smell • If the clitoris is not cut it will harm the husband during intercourse • If the clitoris is not cut it will make women run wild and have high sexual appetite
Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 Makes it a criminal offence to: • Excise, infibulate or otherwise mutilate the whole or any part of a girl or woman’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris. • Aid, abet, counsel or procure a girl to mutilate her own genitalia; or • Aid, abet, counsel or procure a non-UK person to mutilate a UK national’s or permanent resident’s genitalia outside of the UK.
Limitations with the Law Extraterritorial FGM is very difficult to prosecute Lack of data Shortcomings in the current FGM law which provides narrow protection Need for a broader legal strategy Does not include any reporting obligations Designer vaginas
Indicators/Risk Factors • What community do they come from? • What is the prevalence rate of FGM in their home country • Have they talked about going back home for the Summer? • Do they live with their extended family? • Have their older sisters or mother undergone FGM? • Are they withdrawn and seem anxious?
Police and FGM • FGM is Child Abuse and is against the law with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. • Officers should not let fears of being branded ‘racist’ or insensitive to cultural traditions weaken their investigative strategy. • Criminal investigations should follow police forces’ standard operating (SOPs), and those for child protection investigations.
Initial Steps when a girl may be at risk of FGM • If officers or members of police staff believe that a girl may be at risk of undergoing FGM, the duty inspector must be made aware and an immediate referral should be made to their local child abuse investigation team (CAIT). • outside the core hours, the duty inspector must ensure that appropriate protection measures are put in place. • If any officer believes that the girl could be at immediate risk of significant harm, they should consider the use of police protection powers under section 46 of the Children Act 1989
Initial Steps when a girl may be at risk of FGM • Complete appropriate checks, e.g. child protection register. • Submit an appropriate intelligence log • Complete relevant risk assessments management plans. • Complete a crime report ensuring that the incident is appropriately flagged. • Inform their supervisor who must be at least the rank of Inspector. • Consider whether this is a critical incident. • The welfare of other siblings within the family specifically female siblings should also be checked
Steps when a girl is thought to have already undergone FGM • If it is believed or known that a girl has undergone FGM, a strategy meeting must be held as soon as practicable (and in any case within two working days) to discuss the implications for the child and the coordination of the criminal investigation. • There is a risk that fear of prosecution will prevent those concerned from accessing help – so involve other agencies. • Assess the need for support services and counselling.
Interviews and Medical examinations • As with all criminal investigations, children and young people should be interviewed under the relevant procedure/guidelines (e.g. Achieving Best Evidence) to obtain the best possible evidence for use in any prosecution. • Corroborative evidence should be sought through a medical examination conducted by a qualified doctor trained in identifying FGM. Consideration should be given as to the effective use of a specialist FGM nurse. In all cases involving children, an experienced pediatrician should be involved in setting up the medical examination. This is to ensure that a holistic assessment which explores any other medical, support and safeguarding needs of the girl or young woman is offered and that appropriate referrals are made as necessary. • Where a child refuses to be interviewed or undergo medical examination, assistance should be sought from an intermediary or community organisation.
No one ever died from being offended. People have died because of FGM.