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RCOG marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM

News 5 February 2021

Men have a crucial role to play in ending female genital mutilation (FGM) say campaigners launching the latest in a series of short animations amplifying the voices of men about FGM.

The animations come during the week leading up to International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM on 6 February. More than 200 million women and girls worldwide and around 137,000 women and girls in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. Between April 2015 and September 2020, more than 25,000 women and girls received care and support from the NHS. 

Many organisations have come together to produce the animations including the RCOG, the Royal College of Midwives, FORWARD, Dahlia Project, and the Community Practitioners & Health Visitors Association

The animations use sometimes graphic conversations between men to debunk male myths around FGM, such as an uncut woman will ‘sleep around’ or that this violation of a girl’s bodily integrity is mandated by religion. The films challenge head-on the perceptions of some men in FGM affected communities and highlight how they can help to end it. 

Dr Ranee Thakar, Consultant Gynaecologist and Vice President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG): “It’s crucial that FGM shouldn’t be seen as just a women and girls’ issue, and that men and boys are engaged and understand its harmful and devastating impact. As a College, we are committed to supporting clinicians providing health care and advice to women and girls who have been affected by FGM.  

“We have published information for women and girls who have experienced FGM so they’re aware of treatment options and where to seek help. If a survivor of FGM is pregnant, we have clear guidelines for healthcare professionals on how to care for them, before, during and after pregnancy.”

Janet Fyle, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) who has developed these series of animations said: “These animations provide a story-telling narrative that can enable us to break the taboo and silence of men in talking about FGM. To end FGM, we need to enlist the support and explicit participation of men to work alongside women as connected allies and advocates for change in the fight to end FGM. 

“Men in FGM affected communities have a key role to play as “keepers” of their daughters’ health and well-being and understand the fact that in almost all circumstances, FGM is being done for their benefit and they need to speak out, and loudly, against FGM.” 

Minister for Women’s Health, Nadine Dorries, said: 

 “This Government is committed to tackling violence against women and girls and to supporting survivors of FGM. 

 “I am proud of our health system’s achievements to bring FGM out of the shadows and ensure survivors get the support they need, including through our flagship FGM clinics pilot. The commitment of everyone involved has remained resolute and has continued to provide crucial mental health support for survivors. 

 “We must work together, reaching across communities and agencies to help break the taboo, myths and expectations and these animations highlight how vital all of our roles are. We must stand united in ending FGM once and for all.”

Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director at FORWARD, a charity working to end violence against women and girls said: “FORWARD is delighted to have partnered with RCM and other partners in promoting voices of men in ending FGM.  Our European project on Men Speak Out highlighted the need for strategic engagement with men who tend to be gatekeepers and decision makers so mobilizing boys and men to improve communication and access information will help men to speak out and better protect their daughters, wives and siblings from FGM.” 

Ends

To contact the RCOG press office call +44 (0)7986 183167 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk. 

Notes to editors

The FGM animation films can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC33RQaJyF3H5EyVlzY3V3rw and the two new films will be live from 2pm today (5 February). The three previous films in the series are already there and can be watched now.

To register and to join the online launch event go to https://www.rcm.org.uk/rcm-events/2021/launch-of-end-fgm-animations-men-s-voices/.  

The RCM FGM Position Statement can be viewed at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/2301/female-genital-mutilation.pdf

For more information on the RCM’s work on stopping FGM and violence against women visit https://www.rcm.org.uk/promoting/professional-practice/violence-women-girls/.

RCOG Patient Information Leaflet about FGM: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/ 

RCOG Greentop Guideline on FGM and its management: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/gtg53/ 

WHO factsheet about FGM: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation