Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
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Commission writes to government about FGM strategy

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today written to Norman Baker, the Minister responsible for the government’s strategy to combat female genital mutilation (FGM).

While welcoming the Government’s recent commitment to end this serious violation of human rights, the Commission is concerned that the steps proposed are not sufficient and that a more robust approach is needed for the state to meet its obligations.

This would include developing a national strategy to prevent FGM, with delivery overseen by a single body. This should incorporate rigorous enforcement of existing sanctions against professionals who fail to report children at risk, or victims of FGM. As a National Human Rights Institution, the Commission is well-placed to act as the single body monitoring delivery of this strategy.

Education and awareness-raising about FGM are essential to tackle the attitudes which allow it to continue and protect those at risk. In its letter, the Commission therefore expresses concern that the £100k fund identified for charities to do this is inadequate.

Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“Female genital mutilation should be viewed as a violent crime committed against girls and women and a serious violation of their human rights. Public authorities responsible for taking action on FGM should not be deterred by misplaced concerns around ‘cultural sensitivity’.  FGM is a human rights abuse which can never be excused by reference to cultural practices.

“While the government’s commitment is welcome, we need a properly implemented and enforced national strategy, appropriately funded, and which brings together all the appropriate authorities across the UK if we are to successfully tackle this human rights violation.”

The Commission has this week provided a submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee on FGM, setting out its position.

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 0161 829 8102, out of hours 07767 272 818.

Notes to Editors

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.  It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain.  It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.  The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.  It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals. 

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