Saturday, September 05, 2015

Massive increase' in women seeking out support services for female genital mutilation

A increasing number of women are seeking out female genital mutilation support service in Cardiff, a charity has warned.
At least 1,200 women or girls are believed to have been affected by FGM in Cardiff, and black and ethnic minority women’s charity Bawso says referrals to their services are increasing.
A new report by City University London and Equality Now, published this week, has provided detailed estimates of FGM prevalence for each local authority area in England and Wales.

Seven in 1,000 women

London, Manchester, Bristol, Slough, Leicester and Birmingham had the highest rates of FGM prevalence with 12 to 16 women per 1,000 affected.
In Cardiff more than seven in 1,000 women are estimated to have been affected by FGM. This equates to about 1,235 women across the city.
Bawso, who are based in Cardiff, say they have engaged with 788 people with enquiries about FGM in 2014/15, up from 249 the year before. They provided one-on-one support and counselling to 37 women during that time.
Bawso violence against women director Dr Mwenya Chimba says the increase is partly due to extending services to cover Swansea and Newport but also due to increased awareness of the issue in Wales.

'Massive increase'

“We have seen a massive increase in the number of people approaching us with FGM enquiries and seeking support,” Dr Chimba said.
“We are seeing more awareness around FGM leading to more people coming forward with concerns about it in their communities.
“But we are also seeing more referrals from social services and health care providers who have concerns about children being at risk.
“We’ve even had people from the community calling us when they have concerns children might be taken abroad for the procedure.”
Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
It happens in 29 countries in Africa and in parts of the Middle East and Asia.

More funding needed

Dr Chimba says the increasing number of women and girls seeking support shows there needs to be more funding for FGM prevention and treatment services in Wales.
“While there is a lot of focus on the prevention of children being cut there are also a lot of women who have had the procedure in the past who have serious ongoing health problems as a result
“Many of these women want reversal surgery or other health treatment and it is not easily available.
“In Bristol there is a walk-in FGM clinic but unfortunately we don’t have anything like that in Wales. At a recent information session a women came forward and asked us where we had been because she had gone through three botched operations and didn’t know there was anywhere she could get private support.
“We have women who want reversal surgery or treatment but need to be able to access services without their families or communities knowing and this is difficult when there are no local options available.
“I think a walk-in clinic in Cardiff would be used by many women. We are expecting the number of women and girls needed support will continue to grow as awareness of FGM spreads.”

Summer holidays pose greater risk

Children’s charity NSPCC said the school summer holidays are a time when girls are more at risk of FGM. This is the time when they are most likely to be taken abroad for the act to be carried out.
Des Mannion, NSPCC Cymru/Wales head of service, said: “We know from calls to our helpline that young girls are being taken abroad and subjected to FGM.
“We must do everything we can to stop this child abuse and to ensure girls brought back to the UK get the post-traumatic support they deserve.
“We would urge anyone who has a concern or needs advice to contact our FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email – you can remain anonymous if you wish.”
Bawso also runs a 24-hour helpline and can be contacted on 0800 731 8147.

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