4th July 2016

Protecting girls from the risks of FGM this summer 

Professionals in Milton Keynes should remain vigilant in guarding against the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ahead of the summer holidays, which can be a particularly dangerous time for at-risk girls.

Raising awareness in Milton Keynes schools is vital to ensure that girls at risk are identified and protected.

Some of the signs to look out for are:

  • Young girls talking about travelling home for special ceremonies or rituals;
  • Families planning absence from school that would extend the summer holiday period.

If you spot any of the aforementioned signs the MKSCB Screening Tool can be accessed at www.mktogether.co.uk and can help with your decision making for your next steps to safeguarding a child in Milton Keynes.

During the summer holidays young girls can be taken abroad to have FGM performed, in order that they can ‘heal’ over the long summer holiday period – mainly to avoid detection when they return to school. FGM refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

According to statistics from the UK Government, an estimated 137,000 girls and women in England and Wales are living with FGM and 60,000 girls under the age of 15 could be at risk of FGM.A web app is now available which has the potential to help thousands of girls and women across the UK who are under the threat of, or living with the consequences of FGM. It is primarily for young girls who are at risk from the practice, but it can also be used as an education tool to inform young people of the facts and realities of FGM. One of the web app’s key features is that it is as untraceable as is possible on a person’s smartphone or tablet, so those at risk of the practice can look at the information confidentially, either to avoid stigma or stay safe in their community. There is an extensive glossary to help young girls understanding of some of the words they may not have come across before. There is also a section entitled ‘Frequently asked questions’ including “What would happen to my parents if I believe I am at risk of FGM?” The app is available to download at http://petals.coventry.ac.uk

Professionals have access to a variety of special resources about FGM which are available here Practitioners can also download FGM Milton Keynes posters for display in schools here The Milton Keynes Safeguarding Children Board (MKSCB) FGM Task-and-Finish Group has been established to combat FGM in Milton Keynes. The Group has been working with schools, the health community, Police and Milton Keynes Council in a multi-agency approach.

As part of its approach to raising awareness MKSCB will be providing a brief to all schools in Milton Keynes in the post, including a copy of an MKSCB Screening Tool and Poster. Please remember if you have a child or young person who has undergone FGM or who you believe is at immediate risk of significant harm refer immediately to the MASH on 01908 253169 followed by a completed MASH referral form attaching your completed FGM Screening tool.

If you have identified a woman that has undergone FGM or a child that you believe is at no risk of immediate harm, but where the risk of FGM has been identified, please send your completed screening tool to the FGM Multi agency panel via FGM@milton-keynes.gov.uk.