This time two years ago, few teachers would have heard of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Today, there will be few that won’t at least recognise the name of this abhorrent practice.
This is because the fight to end FGM is being increasingly put on the shoulders of teachers. FGM is carried out on girls between the ages of 0-15 and can involve anything from the removal of the clitoris to having the outer labia sewn together to leave only one small opening. Often carried out without anaesthetic, it is extremely painful and can lead to problems such as recurrent infections, difficulty urinating and even infertility. In some cases, the immediate blood loss can be fatal. It is most common in African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities.
Charities such as the NSPCC and FORWARD, as well as governments across the world, are putting increasing responsibility on teachers for the prevention of FGM and for spotting and supporting those that have already experienced FGM.
Unfortunately, direct guidance for doing this has been thin on the ground and there has been a great deal anxiety among teachers about how and when they should intervene if they have suspicions about a student being at risk.
To help, TES Professional asked Kamaljit Thandi from the NSPCC FGM helpline to answer teachers’ questions and to advise on best practice. You can listen to the conversation on the TES Professional Podcast.
TES Connect has also put together the following comprehensive collection of resources for teachers to download and use.
- The NSPCC runs the FGM helpline, where teachers can find advice and support. You can ring them on 0800 028 3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The NSPCC also offers this basic guidance document on FGM.
- This comprehensive information sheet from UNICEF provides all the basic facts and figures on FGM that teachers might need.
- UK charity Forward has released a lesson plan that provides a framework for teachers to talk to students about FGM
- Nagla, once a refugee from Djibouti, but now a lawyer in London, talks about this ancient tradition, its place in modern society and why it continues.
- The London Safeguarding Children Board has a range of FGM resources, including posters and information about police campaigns to prevent FGM.
- This sequence from Channel 4 chat show Shariah TV reveals varying opinions on whether female circumcision is Islamic and whether it should be practised. There are theories as to why it was introduced in early Arab communities, but has it continued because of culture, or religion?
- This video is recommended for over 16s and adults only. It is a film titled The Cutting Tradition, a 47-minute film, narrated by Meryl Streep and commissioned by Figo – the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.