Department of Health and Social Care
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Government launches study into Female Genital Mutilation

Government launches study into Female Genital Mutilation

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 27 August 2009

GPs and health professionals working in maternity, obstetrics, gynaecology, and sexual health are today being asked to take part in a new study into Female Genital Mutilation in a bid to better ensure that services to protect women and girls are as effective as possible.

The study aims to increase the Government’s knowledge about women and girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation in England. It will also look at how the training needs of key health professionals could be improved and provide vital information for the development of appropriate sexual and reproductive health services. The findings will inform the forthcoming cross-government strategy on tackling Violence Against Women and Girls.

Female Genital Mutilation, also known as female genital cutting, can cause long-term mental and physical suffering, difficulty in giving birth, infertility and even death. It is illegal in the UK.

Dame Christine Beasley, England’s Chief Nursing Officer said:

“Up to 24,000 young girls in the UK are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation. We have put training in place to support frontline healthcare staff in responding where they see or hear of this practice taking place.

“By taking part in this research, Nurses will be helping to ensure that the training available to them in this difficult area is refined and improved.

“I urge all nurses to log on and take part in this important research. “

Health Minister, Gillian Merron said:

“Female Genital Mutilation is an extremely harmful practice and is illegal. It violates women’s most basic human rights. Keeping children and young people safe is a top priority for the health service and the findings of this research will be essential in ensuring that we continue to offer women the best possible protection.

“Often, women affected by Female Genital Mutilation first come into contact with the NHS through maternity, obstetrics and gynaecology and sexual health services. I am therefore asking all these health professionals to take a stand against this practice by taking part in this research.”

To take part in this study health professionals should visit http:// surveys.redhouselane.com/survey.aspx?surveyid=30&uid=_ and enter password fgmsurvey

Funded by the Department of Health, the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are working together with King’s College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery to conduct a study with health professionals on FGM. It will run throughout September

Notes to Editors

1. Any further enquiries or questions should be addressed to the Department of Health Newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.

2. The Department of Health has produced a comprehensive training video for health professionals that outlines appropriate actions and guidance for dealing with FGM. This can be made available for reproduction on third party websites, please contact the DH Newsdesk to arrange this.

3. If any clinician would like to order a copy of the DVD training package, they can email this request to ben.robins@dh.gsi.gov.uk. Please note that all media enquiries should still be routed through the DH Newsdesk (as above)

4. The study will run until 8 October 2009. It involves a month-long snapshot survey and professionals are asked to record the numbers of all those presenting with FGM and additional demographic data, e.g. ethnic background and the age at which FGM was carried out. There is also a 15-minute survey that assesses the knowledge and training needs of health professionals around FGM.

5. Female Genital Mutilation is Illegal in the UK. The maximum penalty for committing or aiding the offence is 14 years' imprisonment.

Contacts:

Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221
NDS.DH@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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