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New funding for female genital mutilation and forced marriage prevention

Minister for Women reinforces 'practice will not be tolerated'.

To mark International Day of the Girl (11 October 2014), £330,000 of funding to help tackle female genital mutilation and forced marriage head on has been committed by the government recently.

The funding will be used to extend a number of projects that provide expertise and support services in some of the most at risk areas of the country to help eradicate this abhorrent practice.

This furthers the commitment made by the Prime Minister in July 2014 to galvanise international efforts to combat female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:

All women, whether young or old, have the right to live their life free from violence without being forced into marriage or experiencing the lifelong physical and psychological effects of female genital mutilation.

These horrific practices are a violation of the rights of girls and women across the world, including here in the UK.

This funding will offer much needed further support and guidance to those at risk or surviving, whilst reinforcing to communities that this practice will not be tolerated.

The money announced recently will be split between 3 important groups of projects addressing both female genital mutilation and forced marriage:

  • £100,000 will go to the Forced Marriage Unit to be directed at community work to support victims and survivors of forced marriage
  • £80,000 to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s community champions fund who will work with local faith leaders to promote messages during faith meetings; supporting girls at risk to speak out; work with media to tackle attitudes that perpetuate these crimes; and work with local areas to ensure that their services are sensitive to needs of those in need
  • £150,000 for community engagement in at risk areas led by the Department for Communities and Local Government

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

The UK government stands shoulder to shoulder with campaigners across the globe in our commitment to eradicating violence against women and girls.

We have already criminalised forced marriage, strengthening protection for victims and sending a clear message to perpetrators that it is entirely unacceptable.

New funding for our world-leading Forced Marriage Unit will help us to rehabilitate more survivors, educate more professionals about the new legislation, and strengthen our work with faith groups to reinforce the message that forced marriage is not condoned by any major religion.

Together, we will continue to fight to protect girls whose education, freedom and ambition is at risk of being curtailed by unwanted marriage.

Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said:

Female genital mutilation is an horrific practice that has no basis either in religion or in this country and whilst the practice is rare I want to see it eradicated. This is why the government is announcing this extra funding today to tackling female genital mutilation, as well as forced marriage. Part of this funding will be spent on local projects and a network of champions who will work in communities where girls are most at risk of genital mutilation to best target our efforts at ending this vile practice.

The government has already made a number of commitments to clamp down on these issues including more education and support in schools, a clearer law on those who fail to prevent their child being subjected to female genital mutilation, granting victims of female genital mutilation lifelong anonymity, and an improved police response to female genital mutilation.

These projects will be expected to deliver against a tough set of criteria including:

  • education about the cultural, medical, and religious justifications and how these can be tackled
  • education about the social, legal, medical and mental consequences
  • raise awareness of local and national support services available to those at risk and survivors
  • empower people and communities to speak out and ensure they commit to not undertaking it

The Department for Communities and Local Government now open for bids for funding for these projects and the community champions fund.

Further information

Female genital mutilation is an extreme form of violence against women and girls. It is a human rights violation and can have a lifelong impact on survivors’ physical and psychological health. In the UK, it is unequivocally a criminal offence and child abuse and the government is clear that political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of uncovering and stopping female genital mutilation.

125 million women worldwide are estimated to be living with the consequences of female genital mutilation and 30 million girls are at risk in Africa alone over the next decade. The vast majority of practising communities are in 29 African countries, with 74% of women aged 15 to 49 in Ethiopia having been cut, 88% in Sierra Leone, and 98% in Somalia.

The UK is the biggest international donor to efforts to tackling female genital mutilation investing up to £35 million over 5 years.

The UK is a world leader in tackling forced marriage. It is child abuse, domestic abuse, a form of violence against women and men and a serious abuse of human rights. Our well-respected Forced Marriage Unit continues to provide direct assistance to victims and undertake outreach work to raise awareness of the crime.

Forcing someone to marry is now a criminal offence in England and Wales. The new legislation is part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and came into force on 16 June 2014.

The new legislation criminalises the use of violence, threats, deception or any other form of coercion for the purpose of forcing a person into marriage or leave the UK with the intention of forcing that person to marry. It also criminalises breach of a forced marriage protection order. This civil remedy will continue to exist alongside the new criminal offence. Orders can include forbidding a person to be taken overseas, or ordering that they be returned to the UK.

On 22 July, the Prime Minister and UNICEF hosted the UK’s first Girl Summit to build on current efforts and rally a global movement to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage in a generation. The commitments made included promises to improve the police response, increase the support available to those affected by forced marriage and strengthen community-led prevention.

The Forced Marriage Unit has received £100,000 of new funding recently from the Government Equalities Office. This funding will go towards a range of activities, such as:

  • provision of further support to rehabilitate survivors of forced marriage
  • development of local initiatives and services to raise awareness about the new offences
  • introduction of practical resources to support professionals to enable better understanding on how to implement the new legislation
  • work with faith groups to strengthen the message that forced marriage is not condoned by any major religion – tackle improper use of religion as an excuse for abuse
  • developing localised approaches to tackling forced marriage and supporting victims
  • developing a collaborative online presence on forced marriage service provision through a variety of social media tools

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