Safeguarding Children from Female Genital Mutilation in Greater Manchester

FGM is a very entrenched cultural practice which is prevalent across England. It involves the cutting or circumcision or mutilation of parts of a woman’s genitalia for non-medical reasons.

AFRUCA’s work in Greater Manchester focuses on addressing the increasing cases of children at risk of and subjected to Female Genital Mutilation. Between January and March 2017 there were 2,102 attendances reported at NHS trusts and GP practices where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken. (NHS Digital report published June 2016). In Greater Manchester 670 cases of FGM were identified by health professionals in 2016, 115 of these were under 24 years old.

AFRUCA has since carried out another research project on FGM across Greater Manchester in the “Voices of the Community series: Exploring Labia Elongation in the African Communities within Greater Manchester. We found FGM present among more undocumented African communities with many people not aware that labia elongation is illegal in England and included in FGM. Our research highlighted the “culture of silence” around FGM which is seen as a “private practice” in many families. This has implications for protection of children at risk.

Our Approach

AFRUCA has imbibed a collaborative approach to our work on FGM. We have developed close working relationships as follows:

  1. With local schools where our Anti-FGM Champions go to pass on the message and educate other young people. This is a peer-to-peer approach where young people take responsibility for educating others and helping to safeguard their peers who may be at risk
  2. Work with statutory agencies including the Police and Children’s Services in the assessment of related cases. Our Emotional Wellbeing Officer is active here as she is usually called upon to provide emotional support to families where children have to undergo a “medical” to ensure they have not been circumcised or cut. This part of our work is growing rapidly, corresponding to the high numbers of referrals across Greater Manchester. As part of our ongoing “FGM Emotional Well-Being” project across Greater Manchester, between January and July 2016, we received 23 cases where children have either been suspected of undergoing FGM or where there is a risk of it happening.
  3. We are running training sessions on FGM in partnership with other community and faith organisations. These collaborative approaches help to ensure that others have a stake in this process of change which is critical for safeguarding children in the African community
  4. We are members of a number of local forums on FGM where we are able to share knowledge and understanding of key issues. We are members of the Manchester City FGM Forum and the Greater Manchester FGM Forum.

Increasingly, our work on FGM is growing beyond Greater Manchester as we are invited to participate at local events, or speak at conferences or run training course. We are looking for opportunities to expand our work accordingly.

This project is now completed.

Updated October 2020

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