Lewes MP Norman Baker has launched a nationwide campaign, on behalf of the government, to raise awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) and bring an end to what he described as a brutal and traumatic practice.
In his position as Crime Prevention Minister at the Home Office, Mr Baker is in charge of government policy on the matter and is using his position to bring the issue to prominence.
February 5 was International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, an event created by the United Nations. To mark the occasion ministers from across government departments have signed up to the FGM declaration initiated by the Lewes MP to stop the practice of Female Genital Mutilation.
Practical steps mean that for the first time ever, it will be mandatory for all NHS acute hospitals to provide information on patients who have undergone FGM. This will be recorded centrally, helping to provide more information on the incidence and prevalence of FGM than ever before.
In addition, following the Home Office’s successful bid for funding from the European Commission, a new £100,000 FGM Community Engagement Initiative launched this week. Charities can bid for up to £10,000 to carry out community engagement work aimed at raising awareness of FGM.
The government has also appointed a consortium of leading anti-FGM campaigners to deliver a global campaign to end FGM.
Mr Baker said: “There is no justification whatsoever for Female Genital Mutilation – it is child abuse and it is illegal.
“I am determined we do all we can to bring perpetrators to justice. The law in this country applies to absolutely everyone and political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing, uncovering and prosecuting those who instigate and carry out FGM.
“We have launched a new FGM Community Engagement Initiative, we are continuing our work with the Director of Public Prosecutions to help secure convictions and we are part-funding a study into the prevalence of FGM in the UK.
“Last week, I chaired a cross government ministerial round-table to discuss our work to end FGM and reaffirm our commitment to protecting the current and future generations of girls from this abuse.”