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RCOG statement on International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM 2014

News 6 February 2014

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) welcomes the announcement today by the Department of Health that from this year, all NHS hospital trusts must record (starting in April) and report (from September) on information about the incidence of FGM and risk of FGM.

This key initiative demonstrates the Government’s commitment and multi-agency approach in preventing FGM, as recommended by the Intercollegiate Group report Tackling FGM in the UK (PDF, 5.7 mb) published in November 2013.

The main objective of the Intercollegiate Group report is to eliminate this harmful practice in the UK and the recommendations provide policy advice for commissioners and different service providers to better identify, monitor and protect girls and women from at-risk communities.

The RCOG recognises that only a certain section of the population is affected by FGM but efforts must be maintained to stem future health inequalities and morbidities resulting from FGM. Targeted and tailored approaches are needed when developing health and social care outreach programmes.

While much progress has been made over the past three years between the Department of Health, Public Health England, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DFID, Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police; a major player in the raising of awareness and prevention among children is the Department for Education.

The RCOG would welcome clarification from the Department for Education on whether they have an active role in helping to empower and support affected girls and young women. Activities in schools must include teaching that FGM is a form of child abuse and the relevant safeguarding and child protection policies.

RCOG President Dr David Richmond said, “This announcement today follows growing recognition that FGM is morally repugnant and completely unacceptable. As doctors, we must protect the most vulnerable in society and this includes working closely with colleagues across health and social services to ensure appropriate care for these girls and women.

“In working towards ending the practice, there is the need to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the long-term physical, psychological and emotional trauma caused by FGM.”