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New measures have been introduced which could help social workers better tackle female genital mutilation (FGM). 

The creation of Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (FGMPO) means practitioners have access to more powers to support young FGM victims, or even help prevent it.
FGM is a criminal offence in the UK under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. This has now been extended by the Serious Crime Act 2015, making provision for the new FGMPO civil law measure, which can be made by a court to protect a girl who has either been a victim of, or is at risk of, FGM.

Bal Howard, specialist trainer to professionals working with victims of FGM, has welcomed the new legislation in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News, saying: 

"There have been no convictions for FGM in the UK since it was first criminalised in 1985 or when the FGM Act 2003 later came into place. The recent changes in legislation were much needed and have been highlighted in the Serious Crime Act 2015. 

To name just a few important sections in this Act – firstly, was the introduction of Female Genital Mutilation Orders (FGMPOs).  I am advised by a lawyer that these will work in exactly the same way as Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs).  There have been over 800 FMPOs taken out since its introduction in November 2008, therefore, I see it as an excellent tool to protect young girls being circumcised/cut in the UK or overseas. Secondly, the Act brings in that it is an offence to fail to protect girls from risk of genital mutilation. Basically, those who have parental responsibility will be liable to prosecution should the child undergo FGM. There is a need for professionals who are involved with the families to educate the parents that they will be prosecuted and go to prison if their child is cut. Thirdly, a person who works in a regulated profession (e.g. social worker, healthcare professional or teacher) has a duty to notify police if a child has HAD FGM recently, at risk of having it carried out imminently or if it was done historically. 

With this in mind, police and social care will see more referrals from health and education providers.  A further increase in referrals is highly likely when mandatory reporting for GPs comes into effect from October 2015."

If you are a social worker or health practitioner who would like to improve your awareness of FGM along with skills to recognise and assess victims, take a look at Sanctuary Training’s Honour Based Violence (HBV) course. Receive a 10% discount on the next course delivered by Bal Howard on 28th October in London. For more information or to book, visit  

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