Female genital mutilation should be taught about in the borough’s schools, and a confidential phone line set up, a new report recommends.
A report commissioned by Southwark Council’s scrutiny subcommittee, suggests Southwark is likely to have the highest number of FGM victims in England and Wales.
Its recommendations include: “integrating teaching FGM as part of the PSHE curriculum [and] ensure schools Safeguarding Leads understand FGM and how to protect girls.”
Another of several recommendations was to create a “confidential phone line” and a “safeguarding alert icon on school computer networks”.
The report suggests Southwark is likely to have the highest number of FGM victims due to the borough’s high proportion of first or second generation migrant women from countries where FGM is most prevalent, like Somalia, Siera Leone and Nigeria.
The report’s findings also coincided with the publication of new data on London FGM cases, collected by the NHS. Its findings showed that Southwark was the London borough which had the second highest number of newly-recorded FGM cases between April 2015 and March 2016.
Councillor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We know many of Southwark’s residents have links to countries where FGM is practised, and the council and its partners must do all we can to challenge perceptions and encourage reporting.
“Earlier this year Southwark’s Children’s and Adults Safeguarding Boards held a major conference on FGM, bringing together the council, NHS, police, schools, local faith groups, and other community groups to discuss our joint approach to combatting this brutal crime and to launch a new and detailed guidance document.
“A communications action plan is planned in the Autumn to raise awareness across our communities and to build on the excellent work going on locally to prevent this abuse and to help victims. We welcome views on how we can strengthen our approach and I will report back on Cabinet’s response to this scrutiny paper in due course.”
The report was inspected by cabinet members at a meeting on July 18, and its recommendations will be decided on late this year. The issue of FGM began earning wide recognition in 2012 when the United Nations adopted a worldwide ban.