FGM in Wales ‘largely unreported’ say researchers
6 February 2014
Dozens of women and girls in Wales are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), according to experts at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences.
Researchers believe the vast majority of cases go unreported due to the young age of those at risk, their family loyalties, and the reluctance of outsiders to intervene.
Today (6 February) marks the United Nations day of zero tolerance on female genital mutilation, a practise often performed on young girls, most commonly between ages six and eight, and seen as a prerequisite for marriage.
All forms of FGM increase the risk of infection and haemorrhage, and can cause lasting trauma and lead to heavy scarring. FGM can increase the risk of death in childbirth.
FORWARD-UK, a specialist charity campaigning against FGM, estimates that some 6,500 girls in the UK are at risk of FGM each year, particularly those with origins in Africa.
Dr Amanda Robinson
Dr Amanda Robinson, Reader at Cardiff School of Social Sciences (SOCSI), who recently co-authored Uncharted Territory, a research report into gender-based violence, found that several women living in Wales had experienced FGM.
“Women told us that it was often performed by elder women, and that it could also happen as a precursor to marriage, at the insistence of the prospective husband and his family. But while it may be justified in cultural terms, it is a form of violence and a means of repressing female sexuality which causes lasting and irreversible physical and psychological damage. No woman should go through that pain.”
Joanne Payton, PhD student at SOCSI who co-authored Uncharted Territory and also works as a Research Officer for IKWRO, a charity working with Middle Eastern women across the UK, said that there is an assumption that FGM is confined to Africa. “It’s an issue for many of our clients as well,’ she said, “IKWRO has been called in to intervene in cases where girls in Wales were at risk of being taken back to their parent’s country in the Middle East to undergo clitidorectomies. FGM is also a practice found in Egypt, Yemen and Oman as well as in Indonesia and Malaysia.”
“There can be no justification for these acts”, added Dr Amanda Robinson. “FGM needs to be included into our cross-policy responses on all forms of violence against women in Wales, a point which we made in the Task & Finish Group report to Welsh Government last year. The Welsh Government needs to ensure that FGM is not hidden in its forthcoming legislation to End Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence in Wales, sending a clear message that there is no tolerance for FGM in Wales.”