United Kingdom: New Guidelines Created to Combat Female Genital Mutilation
Thursday, July 28, 2011 12:00 PM

New guidelines sent to prosecutors in the United Kingdom are meant to target families that send young girls abroad to undergo female genital mutilation, reports the Guardian.


The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 already allows for the prosecution of British citizens that perform the procedure abroad, and those convicted can face up to 14 years in prison. Seemingly strict, the law has proven to have little effect in practice.  Over the past two years there have been 100 investigations without a single conviction. 


The new guidelines focus on punishing those responsible and improving the information, guidance and understanding available to prosecutors.  In addition to the guidelines for prosecutors, advice compiled by the Home Office, Foreign Office, Education Department and the Health Department is being sent to teachers and general practitioners.  Home Office Minister, Jeremy Wright believes that, “we need to broaden awareness more generally and have sent out some 40,000 leaflets and 40,000 posters to schools, health services, charities and community groups, because wider society needs to understand what is happening.”  Wright also announced an increase in efforts to assist victims, including a partnership with 15 specialist clinics that offer a range of services, for which women do not need a referral.


The push for reform was spurred by a recent plea by Jane Ellison, the Tory MP for Battersea, for the issue to be taken more seriously.  In her statements, Ellison quoted the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development, estimating that around 66,000 women and girls in England and Wales have already been subject to genital mutilation and in some areas of London, about 5 percent of women giving birth have signs of mutilation. 



Compiled from: Female Genital Mutilation Laws to be Toughened Against Families, Guardian, (July 27, 2011).