The select committee report labelling female genital mutilation (FGM) ‘a national scandal’ has prompted the call today (Thursday 3 July) for more trained health professionals to tackle the growing problem.
Unite, which embraces the Community and Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, said that the Commons Home Affairs Committee had done a public service in highlighting the risk that an estimated 65,000 girls under the age of 13 face.
However, Unite said that there were not enough health visitors and school nurses with the right training to identify that young girls were at risk of being subjected to the threat of FGM .
Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: “Now is the time to act on the issue of FGM and the Home Affairs Select Committee report is very clear cut.
“The lasting harm it does to young girls and women in later life is at the forefront of public debate – and this MPs’ report has contributed positively to the discussion and planned future action.
“However, this is a complex area with layers of cultural sensitivities that can’t be overlooked and which pose challenges to health and social care professionals, including health visitors and school nurses.
“We must improve knowledge of all professionals working with children so that cultural understanding - or lack of it- is not an issue.
“For those who have already been affected by FGM, we need to ensure they have access to the right specialist services to support them.”
“Health care professionals need to really engage with this and use opportunities when in contact with women and children effectively. This is about protecting children and their future health as women who can play a full role in society. This is their basic human right.
“We need to support and ensure that professionals have the time to do this work sensitively and effectively. If they need additional training and support they must be given it as we need to stop failing children and get this right.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.