So What Have Politicians Done for the UK End FGM Campaign In 2014?

It’s been a busy year for activists seeking to stop female genital mutilation in Britain. We’ve seen media campaigns, debates in parliament, more research on incidence and a full Home Affairs Committee investigation, chaired by Keith Vaz, which resulted in a report, Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan.

The UK government response to the Vaz Report was presented to parliament on 9 December by Theresa May, the Home Secretary. Amongst other things Ms May stressed the importance of the new hospital reporting protocols (to help us understand where FGM occurs and who must be protected) and confirmed that consultation is underway until early January on possible mandatory reporting (to whom?) by concerned professionals.

Importantly too, the home secretary stated that she sees no need to revisit the 2003 FGM legislation relating to reinfibulation; it is clearly already illegal – as the 2003 Act similarly indicates, worried plastic surgeons notwithstanding, may also be female genital cosmetic surgery.

Commentary on the government’s 9 December response so far has been muted – perhaps the NGOs are content, or prefer discretion – but personally I’m disappointed. The proposals as presented pass the buck massively. This top-level response is far more about consultation and leaving the professionals to decide, than, beyond necessary legislative tweaking, it is about what the government will itself take responsibility to deliver. For instance:


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