MPs welcome £35 million Government funding for FGM but highlight need for action at home to ensure credibility abroad

from Department for International Development
Published on 12 Sep 2013

International Development Committee

Select Committee Announcement No.20

12 September 2013
For Immediate Release

Second Report: Violence Against Women and Girls (HC 107)

MPs welcome £35 million Government funding for FGM but highlight need for action at home to ensure credibility abroad

The Department for International Development (DFID) endorsed the International Development Committee’s recommendation that the UK’s support to efforts to end FGM within a generation should be undertaken with careful planning, but that it should move quickly to capitalise on current momentum amid rising global awareness of the issue.

The original Committee report urged the UK Government to take action within its own borders, where at least 20,000 girls are at risk from FGM, as well as overseas. In particular, the Committee concluded that it is unforgiveable that not a single prosecution for FGM has taken place in the UK since it became illegal in 1985.

Speaking about the Government’s response Fiona O’Donnell MP, a member of the International Development Committee said today,

”Female genital mutilation is a harsh practice that routinely causes severe pain and psychological trauma. In some cases it will lead to fatal infection. It is usually performed on children by unskilled practitioners with unsterilized instruments and no anaesthetic.

“During our recent inquiry, we were shocked to hear that 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with consequences of FGM. We also noted that some of these sufferers live within our own borders and called for robust action to counter the political correctness that inhibits action to challenge this unacceptable practice. It is important this is made a real priority for all relevant departments –especially health, education and the Home Office.

“The UK’s basic failure to act home significantly undermines its credibility in countries like Somalia.”

DFID accepts the Committee’s other key recommendation that UK support for efforts intended to end FGM internationally within a generation should be deployed rapidly to capitalise on current momentum amid rising global awareness of the issue.

The Committee welcomes this response but reinforces the importance of DFID taking a phased and flexible approach to tackling FGM , and cautions against rushing into large scale programming based on any single model.

The original IDC report, published on 4 June 2013, assessed efforts to tackle FGM within a wider assessment of UK Government action on violence against women and girls internationally. The Government has two months to respond to select committee reports. The full response is published today.

Notes for Editors

1 FGM prevalence rates remain stubbornly high in many of the 28 countries in which it is practised in Africa. In Somalia over 98% of women are mutilated, in Sierra Leone 96%, in Eritrea 93% (2010 figures). FGM is also practised in a number of Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

2 DFID’s business case for the £35 million fund sets out a range of possible interventions to help address FGM. It highlights the need for flexibility, and for including a major research component in the programme due to the need to help build up the currently (relatively limited) global evidence base on FGM. It also highlights the approach developed by the NGO Tostan in Senegal as having shown promising results. The IDC report cited evidence from NGO Equality Now questioning an over-reliance on this approach given that other models are also producing strong results (for example, the case of Burkina Faso which has followed a different approach according a greater role to law and policy enforcement).


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Committee Membership was as follows at the time of report publication: Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, Chair (Lib Dem, Gordon); Hugh Bayley MP (Lab, York Central); Fiona Bruce MP (Con, Congleton); Richard Burden MP (Lab, Birmingham, Northfield; Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab, Leeds North East); Pauline Latham OBE MP (Con, Mid Derbyshire); Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con, Stafford); Mr Michael McCann MP (Lab, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow); Fiona O’Donnell MP (Lab, East Lothian); Mark Pritchard MP (Con, The Wrekin); Chris White MP (Con, Warwick and Leamington)

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